SC Gov. Henry McMaster announces 'superior' plan to enhance state's COVID-19 testing abilities
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
COLUMBIA, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says the state has a "superior" plan to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
In his 4 p.m. remarks, McMaster said his plan involved contact tracing, which helps the state locate those that have been in contact with someone who may or may not have had the virus, and greater testing efforts.
"The virus was chasing us, but now we are turning the tables and we are chasing the virus," McMaster said.
McMaster and state health officials announced a four-phase plan to massively increase testing statewide -- starting with nursing homes next week.
"While protection measures have been put in place, including the governor's executive order on March 13 that stopped public visitation to these types of facilities, the number of infections among staff and residents in long term care facilities, continues to grow," Dr. Joan Duwve with DHEC said. "Unfortunately, the number of fatalities among long term care facility residents is also growing."
The other three phases as part of the state's testing efforts include expanding testing in under-resourced minority and rural communities, conducting mass testing in urban areas, and finding additional testing sites.
"We want South Carolinians to know that DHEC is doing everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19," Duwve said. "And a key component of that is increasing our testing capacity. We will continue to provide the public with locations of COVID-19 sampling sites, including mobile and pop-up clinics.
DHEC officials stressed that all testing would be free.
McMaster said the new efforts are part of the state's continued fight against COVID-19.
"The testing is both doctors have said the testing and then the tracing of those contacts is very important because that's how we're going to control the disease, and we have to be very aggressive about it," McMaster said.
Still, McMaster stressed that just because his shelter-in-place order had expired, that doesn't mean people should stop using common sense.
"Just because we are removing some restrictions that we have imposed does not mean that we're not still urging people to be careful, to follow all those recommendations of social distancing and everything else," McMaster said.