CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD)- The eight present members of the Charleston County Council could not approve a proposal to buy and distribute at-home COVID-19 test kits to the community.
The vote ended in a four to four tie at the end of the meeting on Thursday. Councilman C. Brantley Moody was not present for the vote.
“You look at the long lines, people are waiting hours to get tested for COVID-19. Sometimes it takes 72 plus hours for a result,” said Council Chairman Teddie Pryor Sr. “So it would just make sense to me if we could have these rapid tests available. If someone tests positive and has mild symptoms then they can stay home.”
The proposal was introduced by Pryor Sr. and would have used just under $1 million of the county’s available $25 million American Rescue Plan money for the distribution.
“You have a lot of people go and they’re not going to wait in line for a long period of time and they leave and they don’t know whether they’re positive or negative,” said Pryor Sr.
His plan was to use public places and community groups in the county for distribution.
“People can go by the libraries to pick them up. We can put them out in churches. We can give them to our faith-based organizations that pass out food to hand them out,” said Pryor Sr.
But the proposal drew opposition from other council members like District Two Councilman Dickie Schweers, who was skeptical that the test kit rollout could happen while the current COVID-19 surge was still going on.
“The tests kits that we were supposedly able to get best case was seven days. You know how best case goes. That’s typically not when you’d be able to get them,” said Schweers. “I think if it’s two weeks before we get them, let’s give it another week to distribute them. Three weeks out I think most of the medical professionals are saying just like this thing ramped up very quickly it’ll probably ramp down very quickly.”
Schweers’ other criticism was that the plan would be done without any medical professionals asking the county for assistance.
“We should follow the lead of medical professionals instead of being the professionals,” said Schweers. “(The proposal) didn’t originate from the medical community.”
Despite Schweers’ opposition, the councilman said that the money available could go to other proposals related to COVID-19.
“Somebody bring us a well thought out proposal and I’m willing to consider it,” said Schweers. “I don’t make small that federal money isn’t free money, it is tax money.”