COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and state health officials held a briefing Thursday night on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor’s briefing comes as coronavirus cases have been climbing across the state in recent weeks.
According to spokesperson Brian Symmes, McMaster will not be implementing further restrictions.
“As he’s said many times before, Gov. McMaster believes the best way to curb the spread of the virus is for South Carolinians to put into practice what we’ve all learned – prioritize the health and safety of the elderly and other at-risk individuals, practice social distancing when possible, and wear a face covering when appropriate,” Symmes said.
During the news conference, McMaster re-iterated that the state will not go backward and he will not shut down the state or close up businesses.
The governor started the news conference urging people to get tested for COVID-19 before they see their loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday. He called it “Test Before Turkey.”
“Men, women and children of South Carolina, we have plenty of tests at plenty of locations so don’t wait, get tested before turkey,” McMaster said.
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He also suggested that families have their Thanksgiving gatherings a little different this year.
“Gather in smaller groups if you can. If you usually have one big table, maybe use two tables and spread people out a little bit. Space out inside while dining and visiting or be like the original Thanksgiving and do it outside. If the weather is pretty do everything you can outside,” McMaster suggested.
He also announced during the news conference that he will be issuing an executive order directing the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to provide every public school district with COVID-19 testing kits so that students, teachers and staff can be tested on a regular basis.
McMaster added that it will be up to the parent or guardian if they want their child to be tested. A parental consent form will be required before a child can be tested.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, the interim director of public health for DHEC, said the rapid antigen tests have been provided by the federal government.
“During the cold and flu season, allows us to rule out COVID-19 more easily in these children, especially ones where getting to normal testing sites might be a bit of a challenge,” Traxler.
She added that they will be issuing a standing order that authorizes school nurses to be trained in how to collect the specimen and how to perform the test.
Traxler said the goal is to have the test kits at school the week after Thanksgiving. The number of tests a school receives will be determined by the number of staff and students at the school, according to Traxler.