Saliva-based COVID-19 testing now available across South Carolina

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 9:43 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - State officials have launched a pilot program allowing anyone in South Carolina to pick up an at-home COVID-19 saliva-based testing kit from any of their county health departments.

According to Scott Thorpe, the Midlands COVID Lead for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, the program began Monday but is still in a trial phase.

Thorpe says it is free for everyone and all people need to do is show up at their county office during business hours, fill out a small questionnaire, and they will receive a test kit to take home with it. Thorpe says people then need to simply spit in the provided tube and use the shipping materials provided by DHEC to send back the sample.

He adds people can expect results in 24-72 hours. However, since the program is still in its early phase, county locations may not have enough kits to accommodate the demand.

DHEC recommends people check with their county health department ahead of time to make sure test kits are available.

“The supply is a little bit limited,” said DHEC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Kacka. “There is a lot of interest in doing this testing, so it’s hard to come by the supplies at this point. Call ahead to make sure testing is available.”

Kacka said if this pilot program is effective and people show interest in it, DHEC will work to make it more widely available at all their testing locations.

Officials hope the availability of a free, at-home, non-nasal test will encourage people to get tested as people have started to experience “testing fatigue.”

“I would say in the past few weeks we’ve seen testing plateau, and we have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers. I think people are still resistant to getting the swab testing done and I think the saliva testing is a slightly new development people will be more accepting of,” Kacka said.

Kacka explained people should get tested once a month if they are active or out and about, immediately after feeling symptoms of COVID-19, and about seven days after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.

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