Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has remained a major vacation destination amid a national pandemic this summer.
In recent days, several officials have warned that travelers returning from the popular East Coast beach destination should quarantine themselves and get tested.
Despite the warnings, Myrtle Beach officials say they’re open for business, but are asking visitors to vacation responsibly.
"We understand that people are ready to travel again following these difficult past few months, and excited that people are choosing the Grand Strand as the destination they want to visit," said Karen Riordan, president and CEO of Visit Myrtle Beach. "While it's time to get back to where we all belong, we must remain diligent in maintaining social distancing, wearing a face mask in public places, practicing healthy hygiene and following all of the guidelines established by healthcare professionals in order to keep everyone healthy while they enjoy the Myrtle Beach area."
With a permanent residency of 34,000, Myrtle Beach welcomes an estimated 18 million visitors a year. The city's beaches are some of the most popular and busy beaches in the US.
But with large gatherings comes the risk of being infected with COVID-19, especially as cases surge in South Carolina.
Dr. Molly O’Dell, who is a Roanoke, Virginia, public health official, told reporters on Tuesday that those returning from Myrtle Beach should quarantine upon their return.
”One of the significant locations people are going and coming back positive over and over again is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, so we are actually suggesting that people who go to quarantine themselves for 14 days because we’ve had so many positives from Myrtle Beach,” said O’Dell.
Meanwhile, the governors of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York announced a joint agreement requiring those returning from areas with high community spread of COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days upon their return.
The Myrtle Beach region also has seen a reduction of available hospital beds. Currently, 84% of acute hospital beds in Horry County, South Carolina, are occupied. That number has steadily increased in recent weeks.
For those planning on visiting Myrtle Beach, Visit Myrtle Beach has published tips on fun things you can do while social distancing in the area. Those tips can be seen here.