Gov. Jim Justice and state health officials expressed continued concern about coronavirus cases linked to West Virginians who traveled to favorite vacation destination Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“South Carolina opened up and did their opening probably more aggressively than what we’ve done in lots of ways. And lo and behold now they’ve got a big-time problem going on,” Justice said today during a regular news briefing.
“So many people love to go to Myrtle Beach, and it’s a great place to go and wonderful fun and just beautiful as it can be. But now we’ve got multiple people coming back from Myrtle Beach that are testing positive.”
Justice issued a warning.
“If you opt to travel and to travel to Myrtle Beach — and I would think twice before I did that, West Virginia, right now because they’ve got a real problem going on right there — but if you do that, then what I would highly recommend you do is when you get back, be tested,” he said.
The Myrtle Beach area has been called a coronavirus “hot spot” by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Kanawha-Charleston Health Officer Sherri Young this week urged anyone who recently traveled to Myrtle Beach to be tested for coronavirus, citing three recent cases related to travel.
“If you’ve been to Myrtle Beach recently, please come and get tested. Even if you don’t have symptoms of the disease,” Young said.
Meanwhile, the number of cases in Preston County traced to trips to Myrtle Beach has grown to 16 after four more positives were reported Friday.
None of the 16 were hospitalized and all are being treated at home, said Health Department Administrator V.J. Davis.
“If you’re going to choose to go to any beach or a crowded amusement park where you’re going to be around people from all over the country and all over the world,” Davis told reporter Mike Nolting of WAJR Radio.
“You’re exposing yourself to a high likelihood that you’re going to come in contact with the coronavirus.”
State health officials on Friday expressed some of those same concerns.
State Health Officer Cathy Slemp said coronavirus cases associated with trips to Myrtle Beach have been documented in about five West Virginia counties so far.
Slemp advised being cautious about travel and taking precautions after arrival back home. “Monitor yourself for illness in that 14 days,” she said.
If it’s possible, she added, people should check with employers to work from home for a while.
Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s coronavirus response coordinator, also urged caution, saying people who travel should wear masks, stay at least six feet from others and be careful to wash their hands.
“If you travel and come back, we want you to protect other people,” Marsh said.