DHEC optimistic about COVID-19 trends but continues to encourage vaccination and testing

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — After a disease causes a pandemic and becomes recurring but not as disruptive, it becomes endemic.

DHEC says that COVID-19  is on its way to becoming less of a pandemic but rather an endemic as cases continue to go down statewide.

“Not only have our cases been decreasing but our hospitalizations have been decreasing. Our deaths have not yet been decreasing but that’s because it’s what we call a lagging indicator,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC public health director.

Due to positive trends, DHEC plans to change its testing policy.

“This is one of the steps towards this becoming more of an endemic response to COVID-19,” said Traxler.

The organization no longer recommends regular testing but only for those exposed to COVID-19 or experiencing symptoms. DHEC plans to reduce the amount of drive-thru PCP testing locations in the state.

“We will still ensure that there is access to testing for COVID-19 for everyone, but it is going to be shifting more towards picking up the rapid at-home antigen test kit from your health department,” Traxler said.

PCR tests are considered by health professionals to be more accurate than the at-home antigen tests, yet Traxler says they are trustworthy.

“They still are extremely accurate. They might not be quite as accurate as PCR but they are still now extremely good and accurate,” the public health director said. “The small amount of accuracy that may be lost is made up for by having rapid results that allow people to take action. They allow people to isolate and stop spreading it earlier.”

While only around 54 percent of eligible South Carolinians are fully vaccinated, Traxler says there’s another factor that helps protect people as well.

“We also do have a significant amount of natural immunity, especially after the omicron surge,” she said. “I still strongly encourage people to get vaccinated because we do not know for certain if there’s going to be another variant.”

Categories: Local News, Richland