Over 68,000 COVID cases amid testing delays; DHEC says isolate if results aren't in

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As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control is addressing issues with multiple testing vendors that have led to serious delays in people getting their COVID-19 test results.

As a result, DHEC is recommending that those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should operate as if they tested positive and isolate even if they have not yet received their test results.

Some private testing vendors have fallen so far behind in reporting results that DHEC is recommending individuals finish what would have been their isolation time or return to work if it has been more than five days, according to a release from DHEC on Tuesday.

If someone is in close contact with another person who is COVID-positive and is not experiencing symptoms, they should follow DHEC’s quarantine guidance.

If they fulfill the quarantine or isolation timeline, have not received test results, and are not experiencing symptoms, they can resume their normal activities, according to the statement from DHEC.

Taking these precautions will assist in stopping the virus spread, according to DHEC.

While DHEC's Public Health Lab, which has a daily capacity of 2,500 samples, is operating at that capacity and not experiencing delays, about 97% of COVID tests are processed at non-DHEC labs.

Large private labs such as Premier Medical Laboratory Services have fallen significantly behind due to issues ranging from the sheer volume of samples to COVID-related internal staffing shortages and still have not caught up or met contractually obligated deadlines to do so.

DHEC works with nine total testing vendors: GENETWORx, Longview International Technology, Luxor Scientific, MAKO Medical Laboratories, Precision Genetics, Premier Medical Laboratory, St. Jude Laboratory, Rapid Reliable Testing and Tour Health.

At Luxor Scientific, turn around time is around 24 hours for a PCR test and topping at 40 if there are a volume of tests, according to David List, Executive Director of Business Development at Luxor.

According to Premier Medical Laboratory, they are experiencing delays in turnaround times and adding additional staff and new equipment to help speed up times back to standard 24 to 48 hours.

MAKO Medical is fully staffed and are processing at normal turnaround rates as they did prior to the surge of Omricron, according to Josh Arant, Chief Operating Officer at MAKO Medical.

Calls and emails were not immediately returned from GENETWORx, Longview International Technology, Precision Genetics, St. Jude Laboratory, Rapid Reliable Testing or Tour Health.

Over 68,000 COVID-19 cases reported

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 68,597 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 — and 101 deaths — from data gathered over the past four days.

There were 12,950 confirmed and probable cases reported Tuesday, 16,102 cases reported from Monday, 20,337 cases on Sunday and 19,208 cases on Saturday, according to new DHEC data released Tuesday. The state also recorded 101 confirmed and probable deaths related to COVID-19.

Overall, South Carolina has now tallied 12,957 confirmed deaths involving a COVID-19 diagnosis as well as 2,058 probable deaths.

Of the 48,249 COVID-19 test results reported Tuesday, 32.7% were positive.

The state cumulative case total is now well over one million with 968,084 confirmed cases and an additional 257,486 probable cases reported.

Greenville County had 2,028 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday. The most populated of the state's 46 counties, Greenville County accounts for 10.2% of the state's population, according to Census Bureau estimates, and made up 15.6% of the cases.

Pickens County, which accounts for 2.5% of the state's population, accounted for 4.3% (564) of the cases announced Tuesday.

Spartanburg, which accounts for 6.4% of the state's population, accounted for 7.6% (987) of the new cases, and Anderson, which accounts for 3.9% of the population, accounted for 3.8% (495) of the cases.

Children's hospitals report 48 hospitalized with COVID-19

The South Carolina Children's Hospital Collaborative reported Tuesday that the state has 48 children hospitalized with a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Beds in pediatric intensive-care units in the state are operating between 86% capacity and 16% capacity. Specific information on which hospitals were over capacity wasn't immediately shared by the collaborative, which represents South Carolina's four children's hospitals — Prisma-Upstate's Children's Hospital in Greenville, Prisma-Midlands' Children's Hospital in Columbia, McCleod's Children's Hospital in Florence and the Medical University of South Carolina's Children's Hospital in Charleston.

There are three children on ventilators, according to Tuesday's report, and one child holding in the emergency department.

Tamia Boyd is a Michigan native who covers breaking news in Greenville. Email her at tboyd@gannett.com, and follow her on Twitter @tamiamb.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: COVID updates: DHEC reports new cases and deaths in South Carolina

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