Some Upstate COVID-19 Testing Sites Will Close In March

Beginning March 1, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will change its COVID-19 testing strategy.

Due to the accuracy, convenience, and widespread availability of at-home rapid antigen tests, as well as a considerable decline in demand for drive-through PCR testing, the COVID-19 testing strategy will shift to at-home rapid antigen tests.

The agency said on Friday that state-run testing stations would begin to close in March.

So we’re going to be shifting away from our drive-thru or drive-up PCR testing sites and more towards handing out rapid tests that are going to be available at all of our health departments like they have been so that people can get tested in the convenience of their home, ” said DHEC Director of Public Health Dr. Brannon Traxler.

According to DHEC, since the peak of the omicron surge, South Carolina has seen a decline in cases and hospitalizations. Screening testing is no longer essential when the virus moves toward endemic status. Those who need to be tested because they are sick or have been exposed to the virus will be the focus of testing efforts.

“I think that the goal for much of this with COVID-19 is, as we recognize, it’s going to be here with us. But, we’re aiming to get it endemic–to have more of an approach similar to what we do for influenza,” Traxler said.

DHEC will also stop reporting daily case numbers as of March 15, since at-home testing isn’t reportable. DHEC, on the other hand, will continue to record COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths.

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