Expanding COVID-19 testing in SC: State leaders announce latest plan to battle pandemic

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – South Carolina state health officials unveiled a new plan to battle the coronavirus pandemic. They plan to test every resident and staff member for the virus at all nursing home facilities across the entire state. On top of that, they want to expand testing to more people living in South Carolina.

“In order to begin the safe transition back to day-to-day quality of life and vibrant economy, South Carolina will need to increase per capita testing,” said DHEC Director of Public Health, Dr. Joan Duwve.

DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Joan Duwve along with other state leaders announced they’re working to make COVID-19 testing more accessible in communities across the state, specifically in rural and undeserved areas. The same goes for nursing home facilities.

“The number of infections among staff and residents of long-term facilities continues to grow. Unfortunately, the number of fatalities among long-term care facilities’ residents is also growing,” Dr. Duwve said.

What’s different about this latest message is that the CDC has said COVID-19 testing should include people with milder symptoms.

“What these testing sites will allow us to do is to capture those individuals with no symptoms or mild symptoms so we better understand the number of people infected in our state and in our communities,” said Dr. Duwve.

Dr. Duwve said it will help them better identify hot spots. She told 7 News during a press conference Wednesday that expanding contact tracing will do the same. That’s tracking down anyone who might have been exposed to the virus.

“Contact tracing is essential at this stage. We now know what the disease looks like and we know its capacity. We know it’s vigorous and highly contagious,” said South Carolina Governor, Henry McMaster.

Officials with DHEC told us during the press conference they have a couple hundred contact tracers now but said they need a lot more. They’re looking to have around 1,000.

If you are interested in becoming a contact tracer, you can reach out to the following email: covid19news@emd.sc.gov.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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