‘Cautiously optimistic’: DHEC reacts to drop in cases, stresses more testing needed

Do fewer cases in SC mean less testing?

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - Earlier this summer when Myrtle Beach and South Carolina were first considered coronavirus hot spots, more tests we’re funneled into large scale community testing events, drawing long lines and wait times.

But right now, leaders with the Department of Health and Environmental Control and Tidelands Health said the demand for testing just isn’t there.

During Friday’s COVID-19 telebriefing from DHEC, one thing was made extremely clear.

“Testing for COVID-19 continues to be absolutely essential,” DHEC’s Dr. Brannon Traxler said.

In a tweet posted from DHEC’s Twitter account, Public Health Director Dr. Joan Duwve writes:

“DHEC is aware the number individuals getting tested daily has declined recently, even though more testing events have been held so far in August than we held by this time in July.”

Earlier this summer, demand for tests was high as COVID-19 cases peaked. At the first few community testing events this summer, Tidelands Health was forced to end testing early when they ran out of supplies.

DHEC then reacted to the public’s demand by supplying more tests at each event. But now DHEC and Tidelands Health noticed a shift among the public.

“We watched the demand in the community sort of wane a little bit,” Tidelands Health Chief Operating Officer Gayle Resetar said. “And that probably related to the fact that the rates we’re beginning to fall some from a community standpoint.”

But DHEC stresses, it’s the rate of positive tests the agency is watching closely. It’s a number they say still remains too high.

While testing still remains important, Tidelands and DHEC are shifting how they go about testing, with smaller but more frequent testing events, with one in Horry County and one in Georgetown County each week.

RELATED LINK | Tidelands Health testing events

And while DHEC officials said the public should look at the downward trend cautiously, they added masks are working.

“We provided data that show the positive impacts of mask ordinances, that do show that masks work. They decrease the spread of this disease,” Traxler said.

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