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Coronavirus Advisory

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EMERGENCY RESPONSE:  CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
UPDATED:  9:00 P.M., TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2020

NOTE:  FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE THE MYRTLE BEACH CITY GOVERNMENT FACEBOOK PAGE.

OVERVIEW

Your health and safety are our top priority!  Senior staff and the emergency management team for the City of Myrtle Beach continue to meet to assess the situation in light of the reported cases of coronavirus in Horry County.  The city looks to state and federal leadership regarding restrictions and guidance, and we are taking the necessary health precautions to make sure that everyone is safe.  Please continue to practice safe habits and limit contact with others.

To find a list of free COVID-19 testing locations in South Carolina, click here.

As of November 24, 2020, city personnel continue daily operations.  City team members wear masks, practice social distancing and take the necessary health precautions to ensure a clean and safe work environment.  

The City of Myrtle Beach has implemented both a hiring freeze and a spending freeze during this emergency period.  New personnel positions will be filled if deemed critical to the city's operation.  Any new spending is curtailed and must be specifically authorized.   

For a downloadable list of city services and staff contact information, click here.

FACE MASKS

Face masks are required...  The Myrtle Beach City Council unanimously supported a public mask requirement during a special Council meeting on July 2.  City Manager John Pedersen issued the executive order, which requires residents and visitors, ages 10 and up, to wear a cloth face mask at retail and food service establishments, as well as in public spaces at overnight accommodations.  That executive order has been extended through November 30.

Customers must wear a mask in enclosed areas of retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, personal care businesses, professional services and gyms and fitness centers, among other locations, with limited exceptions.  Retail, restaurant and accommodation staff also must wear masks whenever they are in public areas or working with the public.  Failure to wear a mask when required is a civil infraction with a fine of up to $100 upon conviction. 

Exemptions from the mask requirement include when on the beach, when walking, when doing indoor or outdoor physical activity, in a car, in an unenclosed area of a retail or food service establishment, while actually eating, when working in a private office, within the same household as other family members or when an underlying medical condition precludes wearing a mask.  See the executive order for full details. 

The emergency order requiring masks in public is in place through October 30, unless lifted earlier.  In approving the order, City Council members encouraged residents and visitors to voluntarily comply for the health and safety of all.   Businesses where the staff are repeatedly cited for not wearing masks could be declared public nuisances and have their business licenses suspended. 


FIND COVID-19 FILES ONLINE

Here are links to the related COVID-19 files....

To view all of Governor McMaster's executive orders, click here.  To see updates and the latest news from McMaster, click here.

UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & SAFETY TIPS

Holiday Season 2020...  The CDC recommends extra safety precautions this year if you plan to travel and/or celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.  Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, so staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.  If you must travel, please exercise good social distancing habits and wear a cloth face mask as a precaution.  Per the CDC, here’s a helpful list of ways to make the season safer:

  • Wear a mask (with two or more layers) that covers your nose and mouth.
  • Stay at least six feet away from others who do not live with you, especially those who are at a higher risk of getting sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, and utilize hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Check travel restrictions before traveling and get your flu shot.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth.
  • To celebrate, have a small dinner with people who live in your household; the smaller the gathering, the better.
  • If gathering with individuals who do not live in your household, have an outdoor meal and limit the number of guests.  Or, open windows in your home.
  • Remember to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items often.
  • Avoid going in and out of the kitchen and areas where food is being prepared/handled.
  • Use single-use serving options, like disposable plates, cups and utensils.
  • Prepare traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and deliver them in a contact-less manner.
  • Or, host a large virtual celebration with friends and family.
  • Watch sporting events, parades and movies at home.
  • For more information, see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/thanksgiving.html.

PUBLIC BEACH ACCESSES 

Public beach accesses are open...  Beachgoers must abide by strict social distancing practices.  The beach will be policed to enforce these safety measures.  

Public beach access parking lots...  Public beach access parking  protocol resumes, with paid parking enforced for vehicles without a City of Myrtle Beach residential parking decal.  To learn more, visit the following webpages....


HORRY COUNTY SCHOOLS

On October 8, Horry County Schools announced that students would resume all virtual classes due to rising positive COVID-19 cases in the county.  For more information, visit https://www.horrycountyschools.net/.

SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR'S EXECUTIVE ORDERS

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster's executive orders are listed below.  These actions slow the spread of the coronavirus and protect the state's residents.  To view all of Governor McMaster's executive orders, click here.  To see updates and the latest news from McMaster, click here.

MODIFICATION OF EMERGENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR RETAIL STORES AND BEACH ACCESS CLOSURE
On Monday, April 20, the governor announced the beach access closure order will expire at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21.  Local jurisdictions' decision-making bodies will now decide the appropriate actions to take regarding public beach access.  Also, smaller retail businesses are allowed to reopen at 5:00 p.m. today (examples:  furniture, sporting goods, craft, flea market, etc.).  Merchants must adhere to six-feet social distancing rules and the restrictions set forth for "big box" stores, which includes one of the following (whichever is less):
 
  • 20% occupancy can be in-store
  • five customers per 1,000 square feet
As a reminder, all law enforcement officials have the right to disperse gathers of three or more individuals.  The rule applies to both closed and open spaces, including beaches.  No decisions have been made on when schools will reopen.

CLOSURE OF STATE'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS
On April 22, the governor announced that public schools would remain closed through the end of the school year.  Instruction continues, but buildings remain closed.  For more information, see https://ed.sc.gov/.

EMERGENCY ORDER EXTENDED
On April 27, Governor McMaster signed Executive Order 2020-29 to extend the State of Emergency for South Carolina.  The order extends the previous declaration an additional 15 days.

"WORK OR HOME" ORDER LIFTED, OTHERS AMENDED
On May 1, Governor McMaster signed Executive Orders 2020-30 and 2020-31, which lifted the "Work or Home" restriction immediately and allowed restaurants to provide outdoor dining service effective Monday, May 4.   The governor also lifted the restriction on visitors to South Carolina from the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut).  

GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES “CONTACT TRACING” & INCREASED TESTING EFFORTS
On Wednesday, May 6, Governor McMaster announced increased testing and enhanced “contact tracing” efforts statewide through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).  The increased testing will produce higher COVID-19 numbers for the state.  However, the McMaster asserted that the public should continue to take precautionary measures, including social distancing.

What is a “contact tracer?” A contact tracer forms a relationship with a COVID-19 positive individual.  The tracer provides important information about care, food services available in the area and asks about recent interactions with others.  The information provided helps the SCDHEC notify those who may be at risk for coronavirus to help contain spread of the virus.

GOVERNOR TO ALLOW INDOOR DINING SERVICES WITH LIMITATIONS
On Friday, May 8, Governor Henry McMaster lifted all restrictions regarding boats and waterways, effective immediately.  McMaster also announced that indoor dining is allowed beginning Monday, May 11, with the following conditions:

  • Seating limited to up to 50% of the Certificate of Occupancy issued by Fire Marshal.
  • Enhanced sanitation efforts to maintain cleanliness of chairs, tables, doorknobs and all touchable surfaces.
  • Businesses are asked to post hand sanitizer stations at entry points.
  • Table condiments should be removed from table and provided upon request.
  • Cleaning supplies must include single-use paper products, such as paper towels.
  • Tables must be spaced six to eight feet apart to keep diners six feet apart.
  • No more than eight customers at each table.

It is important to note that police agencies have the authority to arrest and criminally charge individuals who pose a threat to public safety by not observing social distancing measures (three or more).  Locations include dining establishments, boats, waterways, stores and all public spaces.

CLOSE CONTACT SERVICES TO RESUME WITH LIMITATIONS ON MAY 18
Governor Henry McMaster announced that close-contact service providers, fitness and exercise centers, commercial gyms and public or commercial swimming pools will be able to open in a limited capacity on Monday, May 18.  Close contact service providers include barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons and spas, body-art facilities and tattoo services, tanning salons, massage-therapy establishments and massage services.  Commercial gyms will include group exercise facilities such as yoga studios, barre classes and others.   Amusements, theaters and a few other business types are still prevented from operating.   

The state has developed
 general guidelines for close contact service providers, along with specific guidelines for cosmetology establishmentsgyms and fitness centers, and public or commercial poolsThese include, but are not limited to: 

  • Guidance on social distancing within businesses, including recommended capacity requirements
  • Additional cleaning and sanitizing guidelines for equipment, tables, chairs, etc.
  • Additional guidance on health checks for employees
  • Additional guidance on training for employees
GOVERNOR REOPENS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS EFFECTIVE MAY 22
On May 20, Governor Henry McMaster announced that attractions are permitted to reopen beginning Friday, May 22.   He also lifted restrictions on youth and adult recreational sports, effective May 30.

GOVERNOR EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY & PROHIBITS SPECIFIC BUSINESSES FROM REOPENING
On June 11, 2020, the governor signed Executive Order No. 2020-040.  The order continues to prohibit night clubs, theaters and adult entertainment venues from reopening.

"LAST CALL" ORDER PROHIBITS ALCOHOL SALES AT BARS AND RESTAURANTS AFTER 11:00 P.M.
On July 10, 2020, the governor announced Executive Order No. 2020-045.  The order prohibits alcohol sales after 11:00 p.m. at restaurants.  The governor's order will go into effect at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, 2020.  The statewide effort is intended to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

GOVERNOR CALLS FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO SUBMIT FACE-TO-FACE OPTION FOR SCHOOLS
On July 15, the governor hosted a press conference calling for school districts to submit plans to offer both e-learning and face-to-face options for schools to reopen in the fall season.  McMaster expressed that parents would ultimately make the decision of whether or not children selected the e-learning option or face-to-face learning option.  School districts will submit safety protocol plans to the South Carolina Department of Education to re-open five days a week by Friday, July 17, 2020.  For updates, see
https://ed.sc.gov/ or https://www.horrycountyschools.net/.

GOVERNOR TO ALLOW REMAINING BUSINESSES TO REOPEN, EFFECTIVE AUGUST 3
Governor Henry McMaster will allow all remaining businesses to reopen effective Monday, August 3, but with restrictions and even some mask-wearing requirements.  Restaurants must remain at 50-percent capacity.  The governor also made previous guidelines mandatory regarding staff wearing masks, group size limitations and social distancing requirements in restaurants.  Alcohol sales still must stop at 11:00 p.m.  Governor McMaster also ordered that face coverings must be worn in all state government buildings, effective Wednesday, August 5.

The remaining group of businesses and activities which had been prohibited will be allowed to operate again on August 3, although they may not exceed 50 percent capacity or 250 people (whichever is less) and that the wearing of face masks is required as a condition of admission or participation.  This last group of businesses allowed to reopen includes festivals, parades, concerts, theaters, stadiums, arenas, coliseums, auditoriums, gymnasiums, concert halls, dance halls, performing arts centers, parks, racetracks and similar entities.  The governor did say that permission to exceed the capacity limits for this group may be granted by the SC Commerce Department if the business or entity can demonstrate the ability to comply with state and federal COVID-19 rules, including social distancing.  That means that a football game, for example, could be viewed by more than 250 spectators if the venue can demonstrate that it can do so safely, within the guidelines.

GOVERNOR LIFTS CAPACITY RESTRICTIONS ON RESTAURANTS, FACE MASKS STILL REQUIRED
On October 2, Governor Henry McMaster removed the 50-percent occupancy limitation for restaurants, allowing them to go back to full occupancy, but with some restrictions still in place.  Masks are still required for both restaurant staff and customers, unless seated at the table, and restaurants are encouraged to follow spacing guidelines and group limits, to the extent possible.  Notably, the governor did not remove the “no alcohol sales after 11:00 p.m.” rule.  That “last call” limitation remains in place for alcohol service at restaurants and bars. 

FREE ONLINE GUIDES FOR REOPENING BUSINESSES

Short Term Rental Businesses...  In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP) and the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) have compiled a list of recommended practices to ensure rigorous sanitation and disinfection protocols.  To view the free resource, click here.

Independent Retail Businesses...  Are you an independent retailer with concerns about how to reopen due to COVID-19?  If so, &Access offers a free, helpful guide regarding store re-openings and safety precautions.  To view the file, click here.

CITY FACILITIES, MEETINGS & EVENTS

FACILITIES & MEETINGS
The rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Horry County prompts renewed efforts to prevent the spread of the illness.  Below is the list of the City of Myrtle Beach’s revisited protocols, effective immediately.

Admission to City Facilities...

  • Admission to the city’s indoor facilities will be by appointment only.  Exclusions include the following:  recreation center access (granted to members and summer camp participants only at Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium, Mary C. Canty Recreation Center and Pepper Geddings Recreation Center); scheduled events at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and Sports Center; and, City Council Workshops and Meetings.
  • All individuals, ages 10 and up, entering city facilities must wear a face mask or face shield.  Upon arrival and departure, temperatures will be taken utilizing a no-touch thermometer.  This requirement is not intended to deny access to members of the public who do not have a mask upon arrival.  We have a good supply from a reputable source, and they will be distributed to each location for individuals who arrive without a mask or shield.  
  • The Parks, Recreation, and Sports Tourism Department may develop new protocols for the public’s use of exercise equipment, gymnasiums, etc.
  • The Myrtle Beach Convention Center may develop new protocols for the public’s use of spaces (for private events only).

City Employees and Masks...

  • City employees shall also wear a mask whenever they interact with the public on a face-to-face basis, whether inside or outside of a building.
  • The Police Department may adopt a different standard for interactions by sworn officers in the conduct of their duties.
  • City employees must also wear a mask whenever meeting with other employees in the same room or when the employees share office space where it is difficult or impossible to consistently maintain at least six feet of social distancing.  Individuals who are working by themselves within their own office space are not required to wear masks.
  • Employees must wear masks while using break rooms, hallways, restroom facilities and other common areas of city facilities.
  • Employees must wear a mask whenever more than one individual is in the same city vehicle or personal vehicle on city business (no exceptions).

Chapin Memorial Library... 

The library’s zero contact pickup service will be available and encouraged.  Virtual programs will continue through the Chapin Memorial Library YouTube channel.  City personnel will maintain reduced capacity limits.  Questions?  Call 843-918-1275.  New facility hours are, as follows:

Monday through Thursday – 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday – 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday – 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Sunday – Closed

City of Myrtle Beach's Recreation Centers... 

Below 
are the updated membership hours for Myrtle Beach’s recreation centers, which opened on Monday, June 15, 2020.  Access is limited to members only, and pools and showers remain closed. 

Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium, 1004 Crabtree Lane
Monday through Friday – 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Saturday – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sunday – Closed

Mary C. Canty Recreation Center, 971 Canal Street
Monday through Thursday – 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Friday – 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday – 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday – Closed

Pepper Geddings Recreation Center, 3205 North Oak Street
Monday through Friday – 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sunday – Closed

Savannah’s Playground
Open Regular Hours

MEETING ANNOUNCEMENTS
Announcements about meetings and events for subsequent weeks will be provided in a timely manner to Friday Fax email recipients.  To sign up,  fill out the simple Sign Up Form at the bottom of the Friday Fax webpage.  Or, see our Meeting Schedule webpage.

EVENTS
To see a list of events, visit the city's
 Events webpage.  For a helpful list of links to online e-resources, see our new E-Resources webpage.

SERVICES & UPDATED PROTOCOLS

Here's a helpful list of city services, with information regarding the city's updated protocols....

Police, Fire & EMS Services
Police, Fire and EMS services continue, and the Police and Fire Departments will respond to emergency events.  Our 911 dispatchers are pre-screening emergency calls to determine whether any respiratory distress is involved.  For non-emergency calls and routine reports, call the Police Department's non-emergency dispatch line at 843-918-1382.  Or, visit the Police Department’s P2C website to report an incident.  Myrtle Beach police officers are still conducting patrols.  The beach wheelchair service and fingerprinting services are both suspended until further notice.

Utility Payments
Remember, utility payment drop boxes are available at the City Services Building, 921 North Oak Street.  Payments and paperwork deposited into the night drop boxes will be processed after 48 hours.  The city's drive-through service window is also open.  You also may pay utility bills online.  See the links below for more information.  Questions?  Call 843-918-1212 or send an email to mbutilpay@cityofmyrtlebeach.com for information.

Solid Waste Collection
Solid waste services will be on their usual schedule this week.


SIGNAGE FLEXIBILITY FOR IN-CITY BUSINESSES

The City of Myrtle Beach is giving businesses more flexibility for additional signs and tents during the coronavirus emergency.  On March 18, 2020, City Manager John Pedersen has signed an order allowing temporary signage and operational rules to help restaurants cope, effective immediately.   

As of July 24, 2020, Order 1B now extends to all in-city businesses, effective immediately...  To download the revised rules, click here.
  Questions?  For more information, please contact the Planning and Zoning Department at 843-918-1050.

1.   Notwithstanding other zoning regulations governing signs, additional temporary signage for the purpose of advertising the operational status of the business (e.g. Open Hours, Dining Room Open, Curbside Pick-up/Takeout Available, Available by Appointment Only, etc.) is allowed:

  • Temporary freestanding signage not to exceed thirty-two (32) square feet total, which may include banners, “A” frame signs, or temporary wall signage. 
  • Businesses previously allowed (by virtue of executive order issued by the Governor of South Carolina or the City of Myrtle Beach) to provide services for take-out and delivery may have up to four temporary directional signs not to exceed four (4) square feet each for the purpose of directing customers to the areas provided for such services.  
  • Balloons are prohibited. 

2.   Restaurants may have up to three temporary tents, not to exceed 300 square feet in total.

3.   Sign/tent placement:

  • Any temporary tents and/or signage may only be placed on the property in which the business is located unless such property has a zero front setback. 
  • Signs may not be placed in a public right of way unless the business has a zero lot line.  In such cases the business may submit a site plan showing the placement of signage only (no tents) on the adjacent sidewalk.  The plan must maintain a minimum of 4 feet clear passage so as not to obstruct pedestrian use of the sidewalk.  In such instances signage is limited to eight square feet in the public rights-of-way.  Such cases must be specifically approved by the City Manager and shall include an assumption of liability by the business for any claims arising from the placement of signage in the rights-of-way. 
  • Signs may not be placed in such a way to cause a sight hazard (subject to the City’s sole determination). 
  • Signage may not be attached to landscaping.

4.   Public parking spaces may be temporarily designated and/or marked for the following uses:

  • Curbside Pickup
  • Delivery
  • Outdoor Dining

5.   Effective May 4, 2020 restaurants subject to Governor McMaster’s Executive Order 2020-31 may erect outdoor dining facilities provided that such facilities:

  • May not occupy more than 25% of the required parking for such business.
  • Do not, in the opinion of City law enforcement, fire, and zoning enforcement officials constitute a safety hazard to pedestrians, motor vehicle operators, cyclists, customers, employees, or first responders.
  • Are not placed in such a location as to block the view of or access to adjacent or nearby businesses.
  • Should incorporate and be in substantial conformance with industry guidelines regarding outdoor seating such as those prepared and published by the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (see attached), in addition to undertaking and implementing all reasonable steps to comply with any applicable sanitation guidelines promulgated by the CDC, DHEC, or any other state or federal public health officials.”
  • Adherence to the guidelines included in the attached “Temporary Outdoor Seating Guidelines” as published by the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

6.   These temporary rules and procedures are subject to modification, in whole or in part, upon public notice thereof.   

7.   Enforcement of Executive Order – A person who fails to comply with this Executive Order shall be guilty of a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of not more than $100.  Each day of a continuing violation of this Executive Order shall be considered a separate and distinct offense.  In addition to the fines established by this Section 6, repeated violations of this Executive Order by a person who owns, manages, operates or otherwise controls a business subject to this Executive Order may, subject to all procedural protections set forth in the Myrtle Beach City Code, result in the temporary suspension of any occupancy permit or business license issued to the business where the repeated violations occurred.  Repeated violation of this Executive Order may also be abated as allowed by the Myrtle Beach City Code and/or the laws of this State. 

8.   The foregoing notwithstanding, law enforcement shall seek voluntary compliance.  For the purposes of this Executive Order, “person” shall be defined as any individual associated with the business who has the control or authority and the ability to enforce the hygiene and sanitation requirements of the Executive Order within the business, such as an owner, manager or supervisor.  “Person” may also include an employee or other designee that is present at the business but does not have the title “Manager”, “Supervisor”, etc. but has the control or authority and the ability to ensure that the requirements of the Executive Order are met while the business is open to the public.  

9.   Businesses are required to maintain such records as necessary to document compliance with this Executive Order.

10.   Expiration – This Executive Order is in effect until the expiration of the current Declaration of Civil Emergency related to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Unless specifically exempted, this Executive Order shall also be renewed upon any subsequent renewal of such Civil Emergency Declaration. 

WAYS TO HELP

In response to a request from the public, we've created a Ways to Help List during the COVID-19 health emergency.   The webpage offers a number of ways that our residents and businesses can reach out to support others in the area who are struggling with the economic effects created by this issue. 

MYRTLE BEACH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Although the airport is located within the city limits of Myrtle Beach, the city does NOT own, operate or have jurisdiction over airport activities.  For information, visit Myrtle Beach International Airport's website at https://www.flymyrtlebeach.com and http://www.flymyrtlebeach.com/coronavirus/

PRICE GOUGING IN SOUTH CAROLINA

The South Carolina Price Gouging Law is in effect.  The law protects against price gouging and scams, namely the action or attempted action of renting or selling a commodity at “an unconscionable price.”  To learn more, click here.  To report price gouging, send an email with supporting documentation and contact information to the South Carolina Attorney General at pricegouging@scag.govOr, call 803-737-3953.

DO YOUR PART:  “FOLLOW THE FIVE” AND HELP SAVE LIVES

Hands

The coronavirus illness is more severe among the elderly or those with pre-existing health conditions and compromised immune systems.  However, public health is a shared responsibility!  Follow the five steps below to ensure we protect our community, state and country from the coronavirus.

  1. Keep yourself healthy…  The best defense against respiratory illness – the common cold, flu or the coronavirus – is to keep yourself healthy.  Practice cleanliness, stay hydrated and eat healthy foods that contain Vitamin C and Vitamin D.
  2. Feeling unwell?  Stay home!  Keep away from others and contact your healthcare provider immediately to receive instructions.
  3. Care for your hands and face…  Wash your hands, and often, for 20 seconds with warm water and soap.  Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.  Do not touch your face!  And, disinfect surfaces touched within your home and work space as often as possible, including all electronic devices!
  4. Cover coughs and sneezes…  Always cough or sneeze into an elbow, and immediately sanitize the area affected.  When possible, cough or sneeze into tissues and discard in secure trash can straightaway.
  5. Distance yourself from others…  Maintain a distance of six feet, or more.  Avoid public places by ordering take out foods and utilize pick-up grocery services.

COVID-19 INFO & HELPFUL LINKS

What are the symptoms of this disease?  Coronavirus infection in humans can result in respiratory illness ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia.  The symptoms are similar to those caused by other respiratory viruses, such as the flu, and include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. 

How does the virus spread?  The virus is spread by direct contact with respiratory droplets that are sneezed or coughed from people who are ill.  At this time, there is no specific treatment for the illness.  Instead, treatment involves supportive care for symptoms.  Efforts are underway to develop a vaccine.  Currently, it is thought that the novel coronavirus virus spreads from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).  Based on other coronaviruses, symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after someone is exposed. 

Choose information sources wisely...  Information about this new illness is still developing, but be aware of the “infodemic” which often accompanies such a topic.  False information already exists online about the coronavirus, so stick to reliable websites for your information and updates.  Here are several sites to consider.