New, faster COVID-19 testing procedures available in Lowcountry

Coronavirus

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – Beaufort and Jasper counties are stepping up testing to give people a faster and less invasive alternative.

It’s a pilot program sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and has been used to test students at the University of South Carolina.

Instead of a swab up the nose, the free test uses a tube and saliva.

“The strategy here is to test whole populations on a widespread basis irrespective of if they are exhibiting any symptoms or not,” explained South Carolina State Sen. Tom Davis.

Davis says the new version of this test could be a “game-changer,” allowing for more tests to be done faster and cheaper.

“Hopefully, people will then understand that this is in their best interest to go out there, that they can know their status so they can step up to protect themselves,” said Davis.

There are a limited number of kits available for pick up from the health departments in Beaufort and Jasper counties.

To get one, you can call the Beaufort County office at 843-525-7615 or the Jasper County office at 843-726-7788.

If there are tests available, you can pick them up after filling out a short questionnaire. Then you bring it home, spit in a tube, and use the DHEC-provided shipping label to send it to the lab.

You can get results in one to three days.

Davis says it’s a test the food and beverage industry has been clamoring for, for their employees, and to give their customers peace of mind.

Long term, it’s designed to give DHEC and all health organizations a clearer picture of the virus in their community.

“Widespread testing is available, saliva-based test, noninvasive, quick results free, getting people in the habit of every three weeks getting tested and knowing their status. That’s a key component to making sure we keep that demand curve down and our healthcare facilities are not overrun,” explained Davis.

“We want our kids in our building and we want our teachers in our building,” said Beaufort County School Superintendent. Dr. Frank Rodriguez. “And so it’s a measure that we can take that I think provides a degree of comfort to those that still might feel some anxiety regarding the virus.”

That is why, starting Monday, all Beaufort County School District students staff, and teachers will have their temperature taken before they enter the building.

If you have more than a 100.4 temperature, you’ll go straight to the nurse.

There was only one new COVID-19 case in the district this week and just five last week. Rodriguez calls that “a good sign”.

But the superintendent isn’t ready to bring everyone back to school just yet.

“We have just been in this hybrid model for two weeks,” explained Rodriguez. “So it’s just been two weeks and we want to see and be sure before we take another step that the protocols we put in place have had positive impacts.”

To make sure everyone has the latest information, the school district has created a COVID-19 dashboard so all parents, teachers and students can see the stats from their school and around the district.

It will be updated every weekday with the newest information from a two-week period.

There could be some lag time because of the two-week quarantine period according to Rodriguez, but he hopes it will be helpful to give a snapshot of the district.

To see the dashboard for yourself, visit here.

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