Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) beginning in March will gradually close multiple state-operated vendor testing sites in all counties and make big changes to how they report various COVID metrics. 

The change in COVID-19 practices comes in light of the accuracy, convenience and now-widespread availability of rapid at-home tests and a significant decrease in demand for drive-through testing. These tests are now the most effective testing tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19, according to a statement from DHEC.

However, since these test results are not reportable by the state agency, as of March 15, new case counts and positivity rates will no longer be reported because DHEC can no longer ascertain accurate numbers. The agency will continue to report hospitalizations and deaths, which they say are more important metrics to measure the severity of the pandemic, on a weekly basis. 

DHEC will also begin to gradually close state-operated vendor testing sites in all counties where DHEC PCR test providers are not the sole provider. The closures will begin March 1 with counties with five or more non-DHEC PCR test providers, and end April 1. 

The move also follows national headlines saying the world may be entering an endemic phase rather than pandemic with regards to COVID-19, with new infections on the decline in many parts of the world. In the tri-county area, new infections have plummeted, with the leader of the Medical University of South Carolina’s COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project, Dr. Michael Sweat saying cases are “dive bombing.”

The City Paper’s daily COVID updates will continue until March 15, coinciding with the shift in reporting from DHEC.  

Latest COVID-19 data

DHEC’s offices were closed on Monday in observance of President’s Day. South Carolina health officials on Friday reported 1,936 total new cases of COVID-19, with 1,195 confirmed, and 14 new deaths, with 11 confirmed.

With 16,890 tests reported Friday, 9.2% were positive, keeping pace with reports from the last few weeks.

  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 67.1%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 57.7%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 18%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 13.5%

For more information, visit the S.C. SCDHEC COVID-19 dashboard.

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