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Four new COVID-19 cases from Myrtle Beach trip confirmed in Preston County

KINGWOOD — Four more COVID-19 cases associated with a senior vacation in Myrtle Beach were confirmed Thursday by the Preston County Health Department.

Another new confirmed case is unrelated to the current outbreak and appears to be related to a previous positive in Preston County.

Health Department Director V.J. Davis issued the report. This brings the total number of cases related to the beach vacation to 12. None of those are hospitalized as far as he knows.

“I would say somewhere between 20 and 30,” went to Myrtle with the group that has shown positive tests, he said.

On Wednesday, the department warned that the cases could have a far reaching and devastating impact on Preston County.

Davis said rumors that the National Guard has been called in to help with testing because of this outbreak are false. Preston County is scheduled to hold community testing July 10-11. The Guard may help with that testing, which was scheduled before the current outbreak.

Times and places for the testing will be announced later.

Preston is asking any residents who went to a crowded area on vacation to contact the department, to quarantine as much as they can for 14 days or not be around many people, to wear face coverings and to maintain social distancing.

“We’ve had a handful of family groups that have called and said ‘Hey, we just got back from a vacation from a beach,’” Davis said.
All have agreed to take precautions not to potentially spread the virus, he said.

The department hasn’t totaled the number of people it has called who encountered members of the returning group. “I know it’s a big number because most 17 and 18-year-olds have a lot of contact.”

The final impact of the high school group that returned from Myrtle Beach will likely be seen in two phases, Davis said.
Within the next few days all tests should be back on the original group.

“Then you have the issue of, well some of those kids have been back for five days or so. How many people have they contacted and possibly contracted here in Preston County?” Davis said. “And that’s something that we may not see those positives pop up for a week or two weeks down the road.”

And those that do show up down the road may have infected others. But “if there’s a silver lining in this outbreak, it’s that a lot of times an outbreak does make people more aware,” Davis said.

The positive test results are having an impact now in the community. Windy Hill Village, a retirement and assisted living facility in
Kingwood, posted on its Facebook page: “At this time we are going back on lockdown until further notice. We have a couple employees who have had very close contact with some of the kids who were positive on the Myrtle Beach trip. Their family members have been tested and they have been removed from the schedule until we know the results. Sorry for the bad news but we cannot take any chances.”

On Monday, the Preston County Board of Education will consider whether to hold an outdoor graduation ceremony. According to the meeting agenda, Superintendent Steve Wotring will recommend against it.

Davis said Wednesday that he and County Health Officer Dr. Fred Conley will attend the meeting and make the same recommendation.

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