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State leaders continue discussions on improving COVID-19 testing

State leaders hope their findings will help make coronavirus testing quicker and more widely available.
Credit: Still Image SC State Legislature Feed, WLTX
Testing and Tracing Subcommittee Returns

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The state's testing and tracing subcommittee returned Tuesday to discuss ways to make coronavirus testing quicker and more widely available.

Leaders from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), The University of South Carolina (USC), the State Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Precision Genetics, Inc spoke before the subcommittee Tuesday to discuss strategies to improve COVID-19 testing.

RELATED: State leaders discuss COVID-19 testing issues

One of the concerns was turn-around time with some people reporting a week or more wait for results. Leaders say an increase in cases has lead to slower return rates in some instances, as providers continue to face a strain on resources and staff.

"Experienced, qualified lab technicians. This is highly technical work," Dr. Atwell Coleman with DHEC said. "They're very much in demand."

RELATED: SC hospital staff, resources under pressure as COVID-19 cases rise

They're exploring alternative methods of testing like saliva sampling that could make the process more comfortable and accessible.

"I do think saliva will be a great step forward because you will not need to have trained personnel or minimally-trained personnel should be able to administer these tests," Dr. Patrick Cawley with MUSC said. 

He added that building a Health Information Exchange could also be helpful.

"You can move information around fairly easily and that would help all these different hospitals, all these different labs collaborate," Dr. Cawley said.

RELATED: 1,168 COVID-19 cases, 52 additional deaths

State leaders plan to meet again next week to continue their discussions before the legislature returns in September.