DHEC advises South Carolina residents to get vaccinated and regularly test for COVID-19 as cases surge

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — With almost 12,000  new COVID 19 cases and 45 additional deaths reported by DHEC Wednesday, concern is high among public health experts in South Carolina.

While hospitalizations are lower than this point last year, case numbers are just as high. 

“We’re seeing that the highest number of cases is between people ages 20 to 50. Most of those cases are among the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC director of public health.

Only a little more than 52 percent of South Carolina residents are fully vaccinated. Less than 15 percent of kids between the ages 5 and 12 are vaccinated.

“We need parents, teachers and students to embrace the need for vaccinations, masking, testing, isolation and quarantine when necessary to keep COVID 19 out of the classroom,” Dr. Traxler said.

Not only has the increase in cases among school children resulted in some schools having to return to distance learning, it’s also putting some kids in the hospital.

“In today’s report from the children’s hospital collaboration, none of the 54 kids are vaccinated. Half are members of the part of the population that are still vulnerable and not able to be vaccinated. Those are children under 5,” Traxler said.

According to new DHEC recommendations, quarantine time for kid’s exposed to COVID can be shortened to 5 days if the child has no symptoms, tests negative and wears a mask at school for the next 5 days.

Recently, testing results are taking longer than usual due to the overwhelming amount of people getting testing.

“We do hope and expect in the coming days the turnaround time, meaning how long it takes from when you get the swab done to get results back, to return much more closely to the standard 48 to 72 hours,” Traxler said.

DHEC is moving testing from its Bull Street location to a Columbia Place Mall site.

With a more than 28 percent positivity rate in the state and many asymptomatic cases, it’s important to know if you are spreading the virus.

“This is widespread transmission. Even with contract tracing, we are not able to nail it down to a specific place,” Traxler said. “Anytime you are around people, especially outside of your household, you are putting yourself at risk to some degree, recognizing there are various degrees.”

That Bull Street location will still offer vaccinations but no longer offer testing.

If you do not want to wait in testing lines, you can pick up an at home saliva testing kit from the Columbia Place Mall site instead of getting an in-person swab test.

Categories: Local News, Richland