COLUMBIA S.C. (WBTW) — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Monday began distributing free at-home COVID-19 test kits.

The newly available rapid tests bring a sense of relief to overwhelmed healthcare systems, a local doctor said. COVID-19 cases have soared in South Carolina in recent weeks, prompting a heightened demand for the test kits.

Thousands of the test kits are now available at public-health departments across South Carolina, according to DHEC. So far, DHEC has received 140,000 of the rapid tests out of two million it ordered. The agency expects to get the remaining kits over the next several weeks. Each kit contains two tests, and results are available in minutes.

Dr. Paul Richardson of the Conway Medical Center said the kits will be especially helpful during the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

“We have had a lot of done a lot of testing over the last few weeks, a ton of testing, tens of thousands, actually, to the point where, you know, it’s really getting harder to get our testing supplies as well,” Richardson said.”So I think that having more tests out there for symptomatic individuals will be a definite plus.”

Obtaining the test kits is simple. All you have to do is pick them up at your local DHEC health department.

Anyone who wants a test kit but is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not go inside the health department, DHEC said. Instead, they should notify a staff member doing screening at the door so that one can be brought to them.