Testing sites see large turnout ahead of holiday, officials urge patience with vaccine coming

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry doctors are their hitting the busiest stretch of the year thus far, Administering COVID-19 tests and vaccines all in the middle of busy holiday travel. Doctors say this could be the most important stretch in the fight against COVID-19.

A rush for a last minute COVID-19 test, officials urge masking up and spreading out at the table to keep the risks low this Christmas.

MUSC President Dr. David Cole says people should remain as vigilant as ever. “The virus doesn’t take off for the holidays.”

Case numbers and testing have reached their highest points in months over the last several weeks. Lowcountry doctors say they are doing everything they can to keep up with current demand.

“We are getting increasing ability to provide rapid testing, it’s not that the tests haven’t been approved by the FDA,” says Dr. Cole. “It’s getting the reagents and the test materials available and enough volume to meet the community’s needs.”

Vaccine rollout is just two weeks in as more people are scrambling to be tested before the holidays. Lowcountry doctors say between testing, vaccines, everyday patients and those with sick with COVID-19, they are feeling the strain.

“It’s the people that are going to be required to take care of all those different missions,” says Dr. Cole. “So, we’re going to be stretched and stretched significantly in every one of those dimensions.”

Dr. Cole says doctors are hopeful for a full-scale vaccine rollout to the public with the turn of the calendar but knows it’s a tall order.

“If we’re engulfed in a COVID-19 vaccine surge crisis so forth and so forth, we’re going to be limited in our ability to reach all of our other missions,” says Dr. Cole.

Right now doctors say it’s a waiting game, MUSC has already administered most of the doses it has but is in need of thousands more.

“From our perspective, our goal is to not have the limitation be our healthcare system’s ability to administer, it’s getting the vaccine,” says Dr. Cole.

For now, all doctors can do is administer the vaccines they have on hand and wait for more. Until then, they’re calling on holiday travelers to take every pre-caution to avoid infection of the virus.

“There is hope, just like there is in this Christmas season,” says Roper St. Francis Dr. Jacob McCain. “But there is a hope that this vaccine is here and we’re going to be able to turn the corner on this, we just all need to stay vigilant.”

If traveling is in your Christmas plans, officials say it is just as important to take a test when you return from your holiday travel. They recommend waiting until roughly five days after returning home to get tested.

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