COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolina continues to ramp up testing opportunities and capacity at locations across the state to meet holiday testing demand, state public health officials urge South Carolinians to remain vigilant and practice known public health safety measures.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) testing locations have seen an increase in testing over the past two weeks, with some popular sites testing almost 100 residents per hour. While testing helps determine if you’re sick, masks and social distancing are critical to preventing illness from the very start.
“We are encouraged to see that South Carolinians are once again stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing as we continue our fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director. “While routine testing is key to knowing your individual health status, a negative test result doesn’t mean you can stop wearing a mask or social distancing. Face coverings and avoiding indoor group gatherings remain as important as ever.”
With COVID-19, you can be well today and ill tomorrow. Asymptomatic individuals can unknowingly carry the virus and pass it along to others who may become more severely ill if they contract the virus. To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reiterate that the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with. If you must travel, you should get tested before and after your trip and follow public health safety measures.
“Unfortunately, the holidays are a prime time for disease transmission to occur if we don’t take the necessary precautions for safe celebrations,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “Keep any gatherings small, spaced out, and outdoors as much as possible. Ensure that proper social distancing and mask-wearing occurs, and individuals should seriously consider the risks associated with traveling. Unfortunately, we’re seeing many infections resulting from household spread. Everyone should remember that the recommended protective measures are also important for friends and extended family visiting your home. One of the safest ways to connect with loved ones is over the phone or on another virtual platform.”
Testing and participating in case investigations and contact monitoring are important actions South Carolinians can take to prevent spread from cases that have already occurred. If you test positive for COVID-19, one of DHEC’s trained case investigators will call you. Information collected by DHEC during these phone calls is voluntary and confidential, and this information helps keep those around you safe while helping us learn more about where the virus is occurring.
Find tips for celebrating the holidays safely at schdec.gov/COVID19. The latest COVID-19 information for South Carolina is available at schdec.gov/COVID19.