What to know: SC's testing ramp up and federal reopening guidelines
As South Carolina continues to slowly open businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control has announced it plans to dramatically increase testing and tracing in the coming weeks and months.
The increase in tracking efforts better aligns the state with federal guidelines for a phased re-opening process.
Here's what to know about the testing ramp up and national standards:
- The federal government advises states to have effective and efficient testing and tracing in place before beginning a phased reopening. The guidelines also state the phased process should not begin until a documented 14-day drop in cases.
- DHEC plans to expand its staff from 230 people to about 1,000 in an effort to beef up trace contacts made by infected people to better track the spread of the virus.
- South Carolina is set to test about 110,000 for the respiratory disease by the end of May and is prepared to test up to 220,000 by late June. The state has only tested 77,482 people since the pandemic began.
- Residents and staff at nursing homes, which have been hot spots for severe cases, will make up about 40,000 of those planned tests.
- Expanded testing will allow South Carolina to more accurately track the spread of the disease to guide the reopening process, as well as possible resurgences as restrictions are lifted.
- The plans to increase testing comes after the federal government expanded the state's access to testing supplies.
- The increased testing will expand access to rural and impoverished communities where access has been particularly limited.
Conor Hughes is a public safety reporter with The Greenville News. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ConorJHughes.