COVID-19 hospitalization increasing as SC approves nearly all large events despite risk

South Carolina News

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – As coronavirus cases rise in South Carolina, nearly all large events with more than 250 people have gotten special approval from the state.

The Myrtle Beach Gun and Knife Show will return to the city’s convention center this weekend, although it will look very different.

“This will be our fourth show that we’ve done under COVID-19 protocols,” promoter Mike Kent said. “All of them have gone successfully. We haven’t had any issues, everybody is social distancing, everybody has worn a mask.”

The gun show is one of 148 events in Horry County that have gotten special exemptions from the Governor’s executive order limiting events to 250 people. Those include last weekend’s Myrtle Beach Jeep Jam, high school football games, and some motorcycle events which don’t appear to have much social distancing.

More than 90% of those events statewide were approved by the commerce department.

After the first COVID-19 surge in the summer, cases in the Palmetto State are rising again.

“A month ago, we had seven inpatients with a COVID diagnosis in the healthcare system and [Monday] morning, we had 34, so we’re up almost 400%,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.

Once again, Tidelands Health is over capacity in its two hospitals. Harmon said certain large gatherings may have a greater risk of spreading coronavirus.

“Indoor events without a lot of ventilation, the doors and windows closed, people having difficulty meeting that six-foot social distancing circle,” Harmon said.

The organizers of the Myrtle Beach Gun Show said the convention center has enough space to keep everyone safe.

“The capacity of the three halls that we have is over 8,000 people,” Kent said. “We’re supposed to run at 50% of that at any given time and looking back at our past records, we have never come anywhere close to that number.”

Another event also approved for Halloween weekend was the Myrtle Beach Food Truck Festival; however, the organizers decided in August to not hold it this year.

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