CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster said he will be issuing an executive order for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to provide school districts with COVID-19 rapid testing kits.
Officials with the DHEC said they will be authorizing school nurses to be trained in how to perform the tests which are BinaxNow rapid antigen 15-minutes tests made by Abbott and have been provided to South Carolina from the federal government.
McMaster said the goal was to have the test kits the week after Thanksgiving so schools can begin the process. According to the governor, it will be up to every parent to decide if they want their child to be tested.
“If you want your child to be tested you need to sign the form and send it in,” the governor said. “If you don’t, just say so.”
Dr. Brannon Traxler with DHEC said the first rounds of these tests will be aimed for symptomatic students and staff. Traxler said the tests will allow officials to rule out COVID-19 especially during the cold and flu season.
Traxler stressed that the testing will be voluntary, as parents and guardians will choose to have their child tested or not tested.
The allotment of tests per school are being determined with the Department of Education based on the population of students and staff at the schools.
“We anticipate that it should be enough for all of the symptomatic children whose parents and guardians would want them tested at least from now going forward,” Traxler said.
During the press conference, the governor was asked about the possibility of bringing restrictions back due to a recent increase of COVID-19 cases.
McMaster said that he has no plans at this time to bring back restrictions.
“We want South Carolina open, we have not closed, we will not close,” the governor said. “It’s important for business. It’s important for people to have jobs so they can support their families and growth. It’s what we do.”
The governor also spoke about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and urged people to get tested for COVID-19 before the holiday.
“I’m asking that you do something very important, something that could save lives. Get tested before turkey, “McMaster said. “Any South Carolinian who wants to get tested can get tested in South Carolina, and get the results back before Thanksgiving Day, which is next Thursday.”
State officials say they have nearly 300 testing sites around the state and some of them are mobile capable; you can find a listing of those testing sites here.
“So don’t wait, go ahead and get tested before Turkey, and you’ll be glad that you did,” McMaster said.
He also advocated people gathering in small groups for Thanksgiving using multiple tables instead of one, and eating outside if the conditions permit.
The governor emphasized the precautions people should take to limit the spread of the virus which included wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible and washing your hands routinely.
On Thursday, officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 1,410 newly-confirmed cases of COVID-19, 165 of which were reported in Lowcountry counties.
That marks the ninth time this month the number of confirmed cases in the Palmetto State exceeded 1,000.
One of the confirmed deaths was an elderly patient in Charleston County, while another was in a middle-age patient in Georgetown County.
This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 189,251, probable cases to 11,909, confirmed deaths to 3,924, and 277 probable deaths.