Facing pandemic’s 8th month, county ‘stable’ but wary

By Bobby Bryant



This week, Darlington County enters its eighth month of living in the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s how badly we’ve been hurt so far: — 67 county residents had died of the virus as of Oct. 27, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. (Statewide, the death toll for that date was 3,876. Most of the victims had “co-morbidities” – underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma.) — 2,503 people in Darlington County had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Oct. 27, DHEC said. — 9.8 percent of those people who contracted the virus had to be hospitalized. — 28,130 tests for the virus had been performed on Darlington County residents as of Oct. 27. (Statewide, 1.9 million tests have been performed.) Darlington County for the present is “stable,” said Molly Odom, emergency management coordinator for the county. But she added, “We have to take it day by day. … We’re still watching the data and trying to respond accordingly.” Most nursing homes – “long-term care facilities” — in the county have not been hit hard by the virus, according to DHEC’s data. Morningside of Hartsville reports a total of one case since the crisis began (a member of the staff) and no deaths. William W. Bowen Residence in Hartsville reports a total of two cases (both residents) and no deaths. Morrell Nursing Center in Hartsville reports a total of 11 cases since the pandemic began – two residents and nine staff members – and no deaths. Medford Nursing Center in Darlington reports a total of four cases (all among staff members) and no deaths. Worst hit in Darlington County has been the large Bethea Baptist Health Care Center in Darlington, which, according to DHEC data, reports a total of 75 cases since the pandemic began – 48 among residents, 27 among staff – and eight deaths, all residents. Of those facilities, only Medford has reported a COVID-19 case within the past month. Among the county’s four municipalities, only one – Hartsville – has mandated that people must wear face masks in certain circumstances, usually involving situations where employees and customers of businesses and restaurants have to interact fairly closely. The Darlington County School District has been able to resume in-person classes – full-time for younger students and part-time for older ones. The district has also been able to hold football games and allow high schools to hold Homecoming celebrations. Nationally, however, the pandemic situation is looking much more grim. Last week, COVID-19 cases were reported to be rising in 47 states. “If things do not change, if they continue on the course we’re on, there’s gonna be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalizations, and deaths,” pandemic expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNBC. The White House’s task force on the pandemic said in one report last week: “We continue to see unrelenting, broad community spread in the Midwest, Upper Midwest and West. This will require aggressive mitigation to control both the silent, asymptomatic spread and symptomatic spread.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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