MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The colourful boardwalk is crowded once more, the Ferris wheel spins close to one of many piers, vacationers are searching within the memento outlets, and throngs of younger individuals are reducing unfastened as they at all times do, guzzling and carousing within the beachside bars and golf equipment that earned town the nickname “Soiled Myrtle.”
Among the revelers who’ve flocked to Myrtle Seaside since inns and points of interest started reopening in Might, although, are going residence with extra than simply the same old sunburns, hangovers and sand of their suitcases. They’re bringing again the coronavirus.
Dozens of people that got here to Myrtle Seaside from West Virginia examined constructive for the coronavirus after they returned residence. Three separate clusters of Covid-19 instances in Kentucky and at the least one in Ohio have been linked to returning guests. Public well being officers throughout Virginia have reported related instances. Greater than 20 scholar athletes in South Carolina contracted the virus on a visit to the coast. And people are simply a number of the clusters which have popped up.
Officers in different states are beginning to warn individuals to keep away from Myrtle Seaside, and United Airways has stopped flying there for the summer season. “If I had been you, I’d contemplate going elsewhere,” Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia mentioned final week at a information convention.
That type of message is hard to listen to in a metropolis that relies upon closely on summer season tourism, hospitality, leisure and enjoyable.
“It isn’t Myrtle Seaside’s fault,” mentioned Rusty Trull, 64, a cashier on the Homosexual Dolphin Reward Cove. “You’ve received these individuals approaching weekends, type of messing all the things up.”
Gregg Smith, a Metropolis Council member, mentioned the difficulty was that younger guests had been clearly not taking sufficient precautions to make sure their very own security. “Younger individuals really feel invincible,” he mentioned.
Most guests on the boardwalk early this week wore sandals or flip-flops, however only a few wore masks, even whereas brushing shoulders with different vacationers. Although there gave the impression to be considerably fewer guests than regular for early summer season, the sidewalks on town’s most important drag had been typically too crowded for social distancing, as individuals ambled by with drinks in hand beneath a cover of neon indicators and palm bushes.
The Myrtle Seaside Metropolis Council voted on Thursday to require the carrying of face masks indoors at enterprise like retail shops and eating places. However vacationers will nonetheless be free to walk the boardwalk and the seaside with out them.
Mayor Brenda Bethune urged in an interview earlier within the week that for all anybody knew, guests could possibly be bringing the virus to Myrtle Seaside, not the opposite manner round. She complained that information accounts had unfairly tarred town with the entire instances in surrounding Horry County. And he or she bridled on the warnings from Governor Justice and others.
“I’d by no means go on TV and blame our issues on another person,” she mentioned.
South Carolina emerged comparatively unscathed from the primary few months of the pandemic, however stories of recent instances started climbing quickly in June, as they did in lots of elements of the South and the West. In Horry County, the figures have practically quadrupled, in line with the South Carolina Division of Well being and Environmental Management.
And the common age of individuals testing constructive within the state is all the way down to 40.6 years, from 51.four for March by means of Might — reflecting the growing proportion of young people contracting the virus after states started to reopen.
Individuals who visited Myrtle Seaside within the spring usually lived close by, however summer season guests are coming from a lot farther away, in line with Zhenlong Li, a professor on the College of South Carolina who used publicly out there geolocation information from Twitter to research journey patterns. Dr. Li speculated that folks drawn to the reopened trip spot from distant states might have misjudged the dangers of visiting.
Round 400 youngsters from Loudoun County, Va., trekked in June to the Grand Strand, as this stretch of the South Carolina coast is understood, to expertise the area’s status for teenage debauchery. Some stayed within the metropolis’s northern neighbor, North Myrtle Seaside. Greater than 40 of them packed right into a home to carry events for the group. For some, it could be a long-awaited commencement celebration after a senior yr truncated by the pandemic.
Greater than 100 of the Loudoun County youngsters have since examined constructive, and public well being officers suppose the quantity will maintain rising.
Belmont County, Ohio, had comparatively few coronavirus instances till 22 youngsters and one chaperone got here residence from Myrtle Seaside contaminated. Robert Sproul, the county deputy well being commissioner, mentioned that his workplace had discovered many images from the journey posted on social media, displaying the youngsters paying little heed to precautions.
“They’re going to the golf equipment — the older ones are going to the bars,” Mr. Sproul mentioned. “They’re not carrying masks. They’re not social distancing.”
Mr. Sproul mentioned his workplace had not too long ago acquired phrase that one other native youngster had apparently caught the virus at a baseball event in Myrtle Seaside. That meant his workers members needed to start tracing that youngster’s contacts to see who else is likely to be contaminated.
Individuals on the Myrtle Seaside boardwalk and on the seaside this week mentioned they weren’t considering very a lot concerning the pandemic.
Tate Trogdon, 20, who was visiting from North Carolina with a highschool pal, had spent most of his journey swimming on the seaside. Neither of them knew anybody who had contracted the virus, he mentioned, so the risk appeared nearly nonexistent.
Sipping a Sprite, Derick Coleman, a 34-year-old graphic designer, mentioned he actually couldn’t be bothered by the virus on his trip.
“I’m simply over it,” he mentioned. “It’s exhausting.”
When Nicole Feijoo, 18, took a late-afternoon stroll on the boardwalk with 5 associates, none had been carrying masks.
“I’ve by no means actually cared about illness,” mentioned Ms. Feijoo, a legal justice scholar at Mitchell Group Faculty in Statesville, N.C. A few of her associates sometimes wore masks to guard themselves, she mentioned, however “I’d slightly be capable to nonetheless breathe — if I catch one thing, I catch one thing.”