Horry County performing less than half as many COVID-19 tests as start of July; percent positive declines

Grand Strand

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – Horry County is performing less than half as many coronavirus tests as it did at the beginning of July, according to data from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

DHEC reported 3,627 performed tests on Wednesday, 712 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 45 people killed by the virus. That’s the lowest number of performed tests reported on a single day in more than two months. There were 3,622 performed tests reported by DHEC on June 8.

New coronavirus cases in South Carolina have slowly, but steadily decreased since the middle of July, but so has the number of tests being performed. The state has a goal of testing 5% of the population, which is about 250,000 South Carolinians. It passed that in July with 303,595 performed tests, but has fallen behind that pace in August.

Through Tuesday, the state has done 75,473 tests in August, compared to 110,388 tests from July 1-11.

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“If we were to continue to maintain testing at the level where we are, it’s at 3.4%,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, the public health director for DHEC. “That’s less than we did in July.”

Statewide testing has gone down by about 30.5% since July 1, but testing in Horry County has gone down twice as much, with about a 62.3% decrease. In the county, 6,766 tests were performed in the county from July 1-7. From August 5-11, 2,548 tests were done.

The good news is South Carolina’s positive test rate has gone down a bit over the last two weeks. It’s still, however, well above the World Health Organization’s recommended 5%.

This comes as the state Senate’s testing and tracing subcommittee recommends having 10% percent of the population, which is more than 500,000 people, tested every month.

“The consensus science indicates it’s necessary in order for a state to effectively curb and flatten COVID cases and hospital utilization,” said Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort.

“I don’t want the 10% to be where we go and park somewhere, we get a big number and we’re not serving all the people,” said Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington.

Some places have reached that goal.

“There are states that are blessed with large pharmaceutical labs and those labs are helping to increase the test capacity,” Dr. Duwve said. “That’s one thing. There are states that have used university labs.”

The subcommittee is also recommending a free testing event in every county once a week, up to $40 million towards testing at all public universities or technical colleges, and to develop saliva testing with Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.

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