Just over a year after Georgetown County closed its offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is getting ready to fully-reopen. For most offices, that means an end to the requirement that residents make appointments to conduct county business in person at its facilities.
Those entering county facilities will still be required to wear appropriate facial coverings over the nose and mouth, and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
The county closed its doors near the start of the pandemic, on March 18, 2020, and reopened partially, allowing residents into facilities again on the condition they first make an appointment, back in May 2020. That requirement was helpful for limiting the number of people in the facility during the worst of the pandemic, but it frustrated some residents. With vaccination efforts well under way and plans to make all South Carolinians ages 16 and up eligible for vaccination on March 31, county officials determined it was time for a broader reopening.
Some features at facilities, such as indoor venue rentals for the public, will remain unavailable for the time being. Meeting rooms at the county’s five library branches are scheduled to reopen May 31, pending approval by the Library Board. The Parks and Recreation Department will resume rental of outdoor facilities for events on April 1, but indoor rentals are not anticipated to be offered again until September. That is also the window for resuming programs including indoor sports leagues and programs for youth, youth tackle football and congregate programs for senior citizens.
The county’s full, department-by-department plan is available for viewing at gtcounty.org.
“It’s not quite back to normal, and it won’t be for some time. This pandemic is not over,” said Angela Christian, Georgetown County Administrator. “But we are moving in that direction as more people, including our staff, receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.”
As of March 26, nearly 1.25 million S.C. residents had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and just under 670,000 had been fully vaccinated. Georgetown County is ranked second in the state for vaccination rates.
In Georgetown County, more than 19,000 residents had been vaccinated, including more than 11,000 residents ages 65 and over. That accounts for 36.4% of the eligible population and 63.5% of the population 65 and older. About 67 percent of vaccinations were received by white residents and only 17.5 percent were received by black residents. Georgetown County is working to distribute informational materials about the vaccine in rural areas of the county, and in black communities, in an effort to get more individuals — particularly minorities — vaccinated.
The state transitioned to Phase 1B of its vaccination plan in April, allowing those ages 55 and up to register for vaccine appointments, along with frontline workers, teachers and those with underlying health issues.
Beginning March 31, all South Carolinians ages 16 and up will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Residents are reminded that there is no cost to the patient to receive the vaccine, regardless of whether they have health insurance.
For those who want to receive the vaccine, appointments may be scheduled at most local pharmacies, and Tidelands Health continues to offer appointments at the county’s Howard Gymnasium. Residents can schedule an appointment with Tidelands Health at tidelandshealth.org/vaccine or by calling 1-833-669-7468 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. any day of the week. Tidelands Vaccination locations are available in Georgetown and Murrells Inlet.
Residents can also find vaccine appointments through the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control at scdhec.gov/covid19.