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Wait times for COVID-19 tests expected to increase in South Carolina after New Year's Eve

On Friday, DHEC reported 8,882 cases in a single day – a record breaking number for South Carolina.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — South Carolina health officials are warning wait times for a COVID-19 test may be one to two hours in the days following New Year's Eve. On Friday, DHEC reported 8,882 cases in a single day – a record-breaking number.

RELATED: SC sets all-time daily record for COVID cases with 8,882; Richland County leads state with 1,327

“I’m very concerned,” SC Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Dr. Edward Simmer said. “I fully expect that as bad as the numbers are today, they will very possibly be worse next week. Especially with New Year's Eve parties and that sort of thing.”

A testing site outside of Rock Hill’s Winthrop Coliseum, which is run by GenetWorx Lab, has tested 1,000 to 1,200 people a day with six lines.  At peak hours, wait times were 30 to 45 minutes to receive a test.

In a press conference on Friday morning, Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC’s Public Health Director, said in the next few weeks wait times could be up to an hour or two hours.  Currently, state leaders are looking for ways to make testing faster.

“Increase number of sites, increase throughput at the sites we have, increase the option for different types of tests,” Traxler said. “All of those are things being done literally as we speak right now.”

Traxler said DHEC is looking at handing out rapid at home testing kits to people waiting in long lines for a COVID-19 test, but she also said positive home tests are not reportable to the state.

“There is likely underreporting going on for the case counts and will be as more home tests are being used,” Traxler said. “But with that being said, home tests are so critical and have such a vital role in everybody’s role in identify positive cases, especially early on.”

The testing site at Rock Hill’s Winthrop Coliseum will be closed on New Years Day, but it will reopen on Sunday, Jan. 2 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.  That site is making preparations for longer lines, including adding more staff and preordering supplies.

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

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