Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

State struggling to keep up with testing demand amid surge

Lines of people waiting to get a COVID test stretching blocks in the Lowcountry and Midlands have become common sights since the Christmas holiday and the onset of the more highly contagious and less severe omicron variant.

Omicron’s rapid spread but similar symptoms to the common cold or even seasonal allergies have led more people to seek confirmation for their illness, spiking reported tests to more than 60,000 in a single day and at-home tests to fly off pharmacy shelves at record paces.

Gov. Henry McMaster acknowledged the long lines at some testing sites, but on Wednesday said he was happy so many people were seeking out tests. However, the longer lines and flood of tests being analyzed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) have led to delayed results, and further disruptions of daily life.

DHEC has ordered nearly 500,000 rapid tests and plans to distribute them in the coming days and weeks, and is weighing opening more testing sites. As of Tuesday, 320 testing sites were open in the state, 124 of which were ran by DHEC.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 13,320 total cases of COVID-19 Jan. 6, with 9,497 confirmed. A total of 25 new deaths, with 17 confirmed, were also reported.

With 64,421 tests reported Thursday, 29.1% were confirmed positive.

Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 65.4%
Percentage of of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 56.4%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 13.2%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 8%