COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- A key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force was in Columbia Thursday afternoon to talk with state leaders about testing in South Carolina.
The round table discussion brought together local and state lawmakers, health experts and business leader to talk testing capacity in the state.
“We needed to scale up the number of tests. We were testing 2-4% of South Carolinians each month,” said Senator Tom Davis, member of the COVID-19 Testing Subcommittee.
South Carolina struggled early on with the number of people getting tested for the coronavirus.
Long turn around times for results and a shortage of staff prevented the testing of more of the state’s population each month. Since then, lawmakers have discussed ways to test more people.
Senator Davis explained, “The only way you can ramp up scale that way is through the saliva tests because there cheaper. You can administer it more easily. As far as testing the subject, it’s an abbreviated process.”
Thursday, Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 Task Force echoed those sentiments. Dr. Birx highlighted the saliva based testing currently being done at the University of South Carolina and stressed the importance of testing whole populations, not just those who are showing symptoms.
“We know that people under 25 are particularly asymptomatic. No one is intentionally spreading the virus, they don’t know they’re positive. They dont’ have symptoms. So the only way to find them is through testing and prevent that spread,” said Dr. Birx.
According to Dr. Birx, a surge testing team will be sent to this area to ramp up testing and to identify asymptomatic cases.
Lawmakers are looking to use some of the $600 million left in the CARES Act package to implement saliva testing on a wide scale in the state.