The Kentucky Department for Public Health has now issued a public health advisory for Kentucky residents who have traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, over the past two weeks, after an initial warning to Kentuckians only one day earlier.

The guidance follows a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases that have been directly linked to those who have traveled to Myrtle Beach in Horry County, South Carolina. DPH advises Kentucky residents who have traveled to Myrtle Beach in the past two weeks to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms.

“If you or someone to whom you are close has been to Myrtle Beach in the past two weeks, please be aware that you have a good probability of having been exposed to the novel coronavirus,” Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky Public Health Commissioner, said in a statement. “Please avoid contact with those who are vulnerable, such as the elderly and anyone with significant medical conditions, including diabetes, obesity and heart disease.”

Myrtle Beach, a popular tourist destination, reopened its hotels on May 15 and reopened attractions on May 22. About one week after reopening, case numbers began to spike in Horry County and Myrtle Beach, leading the mayor of Myrtle Beach to declare a state of emergency on June 11.

Several clusters of COVID-19 cases have been directly linked to the area from travelers who live in Kentucky and surrounding states, like West Virginia and Virginia.

Preston County, West Virginia, issued a health alert on June 17 related to a cluster of COVID-19 cases that were found in residents who recently had traveled to Myrtle Beach. A second cluster of cases in West Virginia was identified the following day, according to the DPH.

Additionally, on June 11, 12 Kentuckians traveled to Myrtle Beach and they returned three days later. At least nine of those 12 Kentuckians began showing symptoms of the virus upon about four days after they returned to Kentucky, and they tested positive for COVID-19. Another Kentucky resident also tested positive for the virus upon returning home from the area.

If you have recently traveled to Myrtle Beach, watch for the following symptoms:

• A fever of 100.4 degrees or higher.

• Respiratory symptoms, like shortness of breath or breathing difficulty.

• Loss of smell or taste.

If a recent traveler of Myrtle Beach is experiencing any of these symptoms, the person should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

DPH officials also said in a statement that exposure to COVID-19 is not limited to Myrtle Beach, as multiple states have reported a rise in COVID-19 cases. They recommended that the guidance be applied more broadly, including social situations where people gathered in numbers of 10 or more and in situations where people are not taking necessary safety precautions, like social distancing or wearing a cloth face mask when in public or in groups.

Kentuckians should also practice frequent, thorough hand-washing.

For more information on the state’s response and guidance on COVID-19, visit, www.kycovid19.ky.gov.

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