COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging South Carolinians to get tested for COVID-19 amid the holiday season.

Each household can still order four free COVID-19 rapid antigen at-home tests. Also, those in South Carolina can visit their local public health department to get free tests.

“For the last two years, we’ve seen COVID-19 cases spike during the winter months, along with hospitalizations and deaths,” said Samatha Montgomery, deputy director of operations for the DHEC’s COVID-19 Coordination Office. “We appreciate the federal government’s initiative and encourage South Carolinians to take advantage of it, as well as the resources available to them across the state.”

South Carolina reported 6,501 new cases and 17 deaths in DHEC’s latest data released on Dec. 10. There were also 345 new patients hospitalized with complications due to COVID-19.

More than 18,000 South Carolinians have died due to COVID-19 since the pandemic started in early 2020.

DHEC also recommends getting vaccinated if you haven’t yet and to get your COVID booster considering it’s the most effective method of stopping the spread. WSAV has consolidated information on where to get a COVID-19 vaccine and eligibility here.