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COVID-19 testing underway in rural Sumter County

Sumter joins counties across the state continuing to see a rise in cases and are part of a targeting campaign to increase testing in rural communities

SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. — Efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus continued Wednesday with testing at Rafting Creek Elementary School in Rembert.

This comes as part of an ongoing state and local effort to increase testing in underserved and rural communities. 

"Obviously, this virus is not picking and choosing who it spreads to, so I think we need to know what the picture is and what the spread is in some of these areas that are kind of outlining from cities," S.C. Senator Thomas McElveen, who represents the area, said.

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Sumter joins counties across the state continuing to see a rise in cases.

Recently, the city of Sumter began requiring masks in retail and dining establishments to try slow the spread. 

Sen. McElveen said he would like to see a statewide ruling to help decrease the case count. 

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"There is not statewide mandate and so I think that's something that should be done because we know from talking to experts that the masks help," Sen. McElveen said. "I think we're going to have to show more shared social responsibility, if we're going to try to get on the downside of this trend.... The biggest fear that I think we've always had is the hospital surge... If hospital beds are getting full of COVID patients, then the person that gets in a wreak or has a heart attack or stroke may not have access."

Prisma Health serves the Sumter community. 

In a statement to News19 Tuesday, a spokesperson said, across their system, they do have enough capacity to meet the need. 

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"As a large integrated healthcare delivery system, Prisma Health has capacity across our hospitals in the Upstate and Midlands of South Carolina, including our ICUs," the statement read. "We are managing our healthcare system capacity in real time, constantly re-evaluating our physical bed space, our staffing needs and our patient census to ensure that we are maximally utilizing all the resources of Prisma Health to care for all of our patients, both those with COVID and those with other illness or injury. We continue to open additional beds and cohort patients in specialized units, as well as shifting North Greenville Hospital in the Upstate to a COVID-dedicated hospital. Our emergency departments are fully operational and prepared to care for patients who need emergency care."

There have been 1,580 reported cases of coronavirus in Sumter County as of July 14, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

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Despite being a smaller community, Sen. McElveen says locals should still remain vigilent.

"Don't let a low number of reported cases on one particular day allow you to be any less diligent about doing what you need to do until we start seeing these numbers trend downward and that's not happening yet," Sen. McElveen said.

RELATED: Sumter County Fair cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

Testing has concluded at Rafting Creek Elementary, but will be offered again Friday, July 17 at Hillcrest Middle School located at 4355 Peach Orchard Road in Dalzell from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

RELATED: Free COVID-19 testing in Rembert, Dalzell