Preston fears major COVID-19 outbreak as some returning from Myrtle Beach test positive

KINGWOOD — Preston County “has the potential to really blow up” with COVID-19 cases, as more are confirmed among travelers returning from Myrtle Beach, the health department said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Preston County Health Department announced three new confirmed COVID-19 cases among a group recently returned from a beach trip.

On Wednesday, Health Department Director V.J. Davis announced a fourth confirmed test from the group and said test results are pending from others. He also said the beach the group visited was Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Then later Wednesday, during his daily media briefing, Justice put that number at seven confirmed cases.

“This has the potential to really blow up here in Preston County, and already it’s to the point where we’re waiting on a lot of test results,” Davis said.
County Health Officer Dr. Fred Conley echoed his concerns, saying it could be the worse health disaster to ever hit Preston County.

The health department knows that another group of local residents is still at Myrtle.

“What we’re trying to do at this point in time is get the word out to anybody, Preston County residents, who traveled back from Myrtle Beach or are currently in

Myrtle Beach to if they haven’t talked to someone from the health department when they get back to try and give us a call,” Davis said.

That includes anyone who has been at Myrtle in the last two weeks.

Health officials are asking people who return from a crowded vacation destination to quarantine as much as they can for 14 days or not be around many peopl, wear face coverings and maintaining social distancing.

“Do everything that you can do to make sure you’re not bringing back something without even knowing it and spreading it throughout the county,” Davis said. “Because that’s what we’re finding with this current outbreak is some of these people have been everywhere.”

Social media posts claim the recently returned group was comprised of Preston High seniors. Davis would not comment on that. Asked how many people were in the group, he said. “We’re still trying to determine that. It seems like it gets bigger and bigger all the time.”

The department has informed close contacts of those who tested positive so far.

On Monday, the Preston County Board of Education will decide whether to go forward with an outdoor graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020.

“They have asked the health department to come and weigh in on that, and obviously we’ll say that we don’t think it’s a real good idea,” Davis said. He and Conley will attend the meeting.

In light of the new positives, the Preston County Commission has decided not to ease restrictions on entering the courthouse annex. People will still have their temperatures taken, must answer questions about their health and must wear a mask.