Horry limits public access to facilities as omicron rises

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Sorry County Courthouse and Government and Justice Center. Tuesday February 6, 2018.

jlee@thesunnews.com

Horry County government officials announced on Monday that they would limit public access to government buildings due to an increase in COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant of the virus.

COVID-19 cases are highest on record in Horry County, with the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control registering nearly 4,600 new cases in the county in the past two weeks . More than five dozen county employees recently tested positive for COVID-19 and 53 others are in quarantine pending test results, the county said in a press release Monday afternoon.

According to the press release, all residents who are not feeling well should avoid county buildings and other public facilities. Those who must visit county buildings are encouraged, although not required, to wear a face mask. County officials are encouraging residents who need to visit a county facility to call ahead and do business online or make an appointment.

Residents visiting the Conway Government and Judicial Center should check in with county staff in the atrium where they may be asked to wait there, or outside, until a county employee can help them meet their needs.

In addition, the South Strand Auditor’s Office is closed and the Treasurer’s Office is open for drive-thru only.

Residents who are due to visit the ML Brown Public Safety building, fire station or police station should call ahead and make an appointment, the county said.

The restrictions on county buildings come as COVID-19 cases peak in South Carolina to date, filling Horry County hospital beds near capacity. The Horry County government has taken similar steps to restrict public access to its buildings as COVID-19 spreads.

County spokesman Kelly Moore said the new restrictions on county facilities would not apply to the county council, planning committee or other public meetings, meaning residents will be able to always attend in person and make public comments.

County leaders have asked residents to be patient while seeking county services as COVID-19 has affected staffing levels.

“Like many other organizations in our community, our workforce is affected by the latest wave of viruses and we ask for your patience during this time,” the county said in the press release.

The restrictions come as many residents pay last year’s property taxes, transactions that increase foot and phone traffic to county buildings. The county, in its press release, urged residents to call county offices first before going in person.

“It is a very busy season for our tax offices, and our traffic volumes in person, by phone and while driving are already increasing,” the statement said.

County officials said they continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and conditions may change in the near future.

“As conditions continue to change, further changes to the service may be required,” the press release said. “For this reason, we encourage everyone to contact the offices they need by phone before visiting our facilities for the latest information. “

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J. Dale Shoemaker covers Horry County Government with an emphasis on government transparency, data and how county government serves residents. Graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016, he previously covered the City of Pittsburgh government for the nonprofit media PublicSource and worked on the Data & Investigations team at nj.com in New Jersey. Recipient of several local and national awards, the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania and the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone State Chapter, recognized him in 2019 for his investigation into a problematic Pittsburgh Police Department tech entrepreneur, a series that has headed the Pittsburgh City Council. enact a new law on the transparency of city contracts. You can share tips with Dale at dshoemaker@thesunnews.com.

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