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DHEC fact-checks post on COVID-19 testing and quarantining that it claims is ‘rife with misinformation’

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 10:05 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 12:03 AM EDT
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CHAPIN, S.C. (WIS) - Just over a week into the school year, over 1,100 Lexington Richland 5 students are either sick, isolated, or quarantined.

In a viral Facebook post, one woman reported to be the parent of a Chapin Elementary student in LR5 is speaking out against quarantining and COVID-19 testing, calling them quote “nonsense.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control responded to these claims on Thursday, and said this social media post, like many they’ve seen in recent months, is “rife with misinformation.”

Among the claims made in the post are that COVID testing is unreliable and the virus should be treated like the flu.

In the last week alone, the percentage of students impacted by COVID exposure specifically at Chapin Elementary has jumped from 2.5% to more than 20%.

And since the beginning of May, the weekly reported COVID cases in Lexington County have jumped from 24 cases to well over 2,000 cases last week.

DHEC officials argue that without testing, contact tracing, and quarantining, these numbers could continue to climb.

The woman who authored the viral post also said that quarantines instituted at school districts across the state are “stupid.” In response, DHEC said that quarantine and isolation are effective disease prevention protocols that have been in place for centuries to limit disease spread.

There are a number of key differences between COVID and the flu, according to DHEC. They include the fact that COVID spreads more easily and can cause more serious illnesses, like lung injury.

Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Director of Public Health, said the main issue of conflating COVID with the flu is that covid can be contagious before someone presents symptoms, and some people with COVID show no symptoms at all.

The woman also said that parents should only keep their children home from school if they have flu-like symptoms or feel ill. Traxler said this strategy could present problems.

“We would be missing a number of people who are contagious if we were only asking folks who had symptoms and who had them at that point in time to stay home,” she said. “That is part of the importance of testing, not only to identify if symptoms you have are due to COVID-19 but to identify pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic folks, especially those who are high risk because they have been exposed as close contacts.”

Without evidence, the woman also said that tests cannot detect the Delta variant. This is another claim Traxler fact-checked.

“If you test positive it’s because of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the one that causes COVID-19,” she said. “And so far the mutations that are in the variants are not ones that have changed the test’s ability to detect the virus.”

On its website, DHEC continues to urge parents to vaccinate their children, ages 12 and up, and advocates for other preventative measures to prevent the spread of COVID, including masking, hand washing, and physical distancing in large groups.

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