COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – Health officials in South Carolina and the rest of the country are reporting a record number of new daily COVID-19 cases to kick off 2022.

Governor Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) said his message to South Carolinians is to not panic as we go through this surge.

“We are now in a very different situation than we faced a year ago or longer,” he said Wednesday morning.

The governor said there is plenty of vaccine available in South Carolina and testing sites. He said he has no plans to shut down the state or issue a State of Emergency.

“We are not going to close schools. We haven’t and we will not close businesses. We will not impose mandates for face masks, vaccines or anything else,” said McMaster.

State health officials and the governor are urging South Carolinians to take steps to protect themselves and their families.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell with the Department of Health and Environmental Control said the omicron variant appears to cause milder infection but vaccination, mask wearing and physical distancing is needed to slow the spread of the virus.

“It is our public health duty to raise alerts for people to do more to help reduce disease spread,” said Bell. “And I hope no one will say raising concern about an average of 81 lives lost in the last few weeks is an overreaction.”

Dr. Bell and the governor encouraged people to get tested for COVID-19 if they believe they have it or were exposed.

They urged people to avoid going to the emergency room to get tested – they said there are more than 300 testing sites across the state.