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S.C. gives out home COVID tests as low vaccine rate lamented

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 11:52 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is distributing 140,000 at-home rapid COVID-19 tests across South Carolina.

The agency ordered more than 2 million test kits and has received about 140,000 of those.

The kits, each containing two tests, have been distributed to local health departments across the state for community use and will be available for pickup beginning Monday.

The agency mentioned that at-home rapid tests are in limited supply and residents are not guaranteed a test when attempting to acquire one.

The news comes as the percentage rises for the number of people tested who turn out to be positive in South Carolina. DHEC is also seeing weekly increases in cases being reported and the number of hospitalizations.

The agency’s public health director said the state’s low vaccination rate is contributing to the problem.

“Last week for the first time in two years of the pandemic, we saw 100,000 cases and more than 20,000 in a single day,” Dr. Brannon Traxler said.

She said those numbers are on par with what the rest of the country is experiencing.

Traxler said there was hope we were turning a corner as a state and nation in the fight against the disease, particularly because safe and effective vaccines became available.

“Unfortunately, not enough people have received their vaccines since they’ve become widely available shortly after this time last year,” she said. “A little more than half of our state’s eligible population, 52%, are fully vaccinated.”

She said while some data are beginning to show the omicron variant may be peaking, it continues to be “paramount” that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated and boosted.

She said COVID-19 has been allowed to “run rampant and mutate,” and the state is still far from reaching the goal of “herd immunity.”

“Ideally, we need more than 75 or 80% of the population being fully vaccinated” to reach that point, she said.

“We have to focus right now on where we are in South Carolina at this moment and the things that we need to do now so that the plateau and downturn for South Carolina will come as quickly as possible,” she said.

From reports by Gray news stations