DHEC delays release of new COVID-19 case data; Beaufort Co. libraries offer at-home tests

·2 min read

Beaufort County residents will have to wait a little bit longer to confirm whether the omicron surge has peaked in the Lowcountry.

The county’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases trended downward late last week after reaching a record high on Jan. 18. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on Monday was expected to release new case data from this past weekend, which would have provided a clear indication as to whether Beaufort County’s latest wave of coronavirus infections was indeed slowing down.

But DHEC announced about 1:30 p.m. Monday that it would delay the release of the new case numbers until Tuesday, citing a “large volume” of COVID-19 test results and the need for data accuracy.

DHEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It’s unclear how many tests results the agency was referring to in its announcement.

An overwhelming number of test results means that this past weekend’s case counts could be very high.

It’s now a waiting game. The release of data on Tuesday will provide crucial insight into how the Lowcountry’s omicron surge is progressing.

The county, as of Friday, was averaging 346 newly confirmed cases per day.

At-home testing

The Beaufort County library system, meanwhile, on Monday announced that it was offering free at-home COVID-19 testing kits to the public at its five branch locations and two bookmobiles.

The county had received about 150 rapid antigen testing kits from DHEC late last week, said Amanda Brewer Dickman, the library director.

She predicted in a Monday phone call that it was “just a matter of time” before the kits were all taken. The Bluffton library branch, as of about noon Monday, was already out of kits, she said.

“You missed the big rush,” she told a reporter.

The kits each contain two tests, according to the county.

“The individual requesting a test kit must be present to receive the kit (no one can pick up kits for someone else),” a news release read. “Additionally, DHEC requires the individual to list their date of birth.”

The county urged interested residents to call their branch library to confirm whether any kits were still available.

Rapid tests have been in high demand during the omicron surge, with South Carolina’s testing capacity stretched to its limit.

DHEC on Friday announced that it was distributing about 140,000 rapid at-home tests statewide.

The federal government last week also rolled out a new web portal where residents can order four rapid tests for free: https://www.covidtests.gov/

If you have difficulty accessing the internet and want to order the tests from the United States Postal Service, you can call 1-800-232-0233 at any point between 8 a.m. and midnight, seven days a week.

Workers take a nose swab from a patient at the free COVID-19 test site on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at the Elijah Washington Medical Center in Sheldon.
Workers take a nose swab from a patient at the free COVID-19 test site on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at the Elijah Washington Medical Center in Sheldon.
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting