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DHEC to Shift Toward At-Home COVID Testing

Daniel Prince

DHEC to end daily case reports in mid-March

SC DHEC has announced that with the accuracy, convenience, and widespread availability of rapid at-home tests, along with a significant decrease in demand for drive-through PCR testing, the agency will shift its COVID testing strategy toward the at-home rapid tests starting March 1st. With the increased availability of the rapid testing, it is now the most effective testing tool to reduce the spread of the virus and to help people make informed decisions about whether to isolate. At-home rapid testing will allow individuals to test anytime, without having to wait for a testing center to be open and to immediately isolate if sick and prevent the potential spread that was possible during the waiting period for the PCR results to come back.

As the virus continues to trend toward an endemic, screening testing is no longer necessary or recommended in most cases. DHEC’s testing efforts will focus on those who need to be tested because they are currently symptomatic or have been exposed as a close contact to someone with the illness.
Since at-home testing is not reportable, DHEC will stop providing daily case counts of COVID-19 starting March 15. They will continue to report hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID, which are the most accurate indicators of disease severity and the impact of COVID on our state. Even that data will no longer be provided daily, but rather on a weekly basis.

DHEC will continue to ensure that vaccination is readily available across the state, as it has proven to be the most effective way to prevent the virus. By April, DHEC will have closed all its PCR sites except in counties where DHEC is the only PCR-test provider or only other such provider. They will provide mobile rapid antigen testing services in those areas, as well. The agency also said it plans to update its contact tracing and school guidelines sometime in the next week or so.

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