Sen. Shealy advocated for upcoming COVID-19 testing in B-L

A long line of cars rolled up to a recent rural COVID-19 testing event in Darlington County, and organizers hope that people in Batesburg-Leesville will take seriously the opportunity to be tested next Tuesday. Photo courtesy of DHEC.

Large-scale testing for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is finally coming to the Batesburg-Leesville area three months after the outbreak began to spread across the Palmetto State.

Lexington Medical Center and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) are working together to provide a free COVID-19 mobile screening site at Batesburg-Leesville Elementary School on Tuesday, June 23. The testing will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

After Prisma Health pulled out of a COVID-19 testing event that had been scheduled for this weekend, state Sen. Katrina Shealy stepped in to encourage Lexington Medical Center and DHEC to step into the gap. Sen. Shealy is a native of Batesburg-Leesville.

Sen. Katrina Shealy

“Because there is such a large minority population and because there is such a problem with the virus in the minority community, I thought it was very important that they (DHEC) come to Batesburg-Leesville,” she said. “We have a big senior population. We have a big minority population, and our people are important too. Batesburg-Leesville seems to get left out on a lot of issues, and I said we can’t be left out on this. We need to have our people tested if they want to test.”

Individuals do not need to have COVID-19 symptoms to be tested, since research has shown that patients who are asymptomatic. No appointments are necessary., and the tests are free.

Clinicians will administer the tests in a drive-through format. Patients do not need to get out of their cars.

The testing for COVID-19 involves a nasopharyngeal swab, where a clinician places a special 6-inch cotton swab up both sides of the nose and rotates it around for about 15 seconds. DHEC is providing the test kits, which then will be sent to third-party laboratories for processing.

This first organized testing event in Batesburg-Leesville comes as recent data from DHEC has shown a spike in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around South Carolina. Last weekend, Prisma Health suddenly withdrew from its planned Batesburg-Leesville event to participate instead in a two-day screening at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium in downtown Columbia tomorrow and Saturday.

“Richland County has had lots of testing sites. They’ve had way more than Lexington County has had and certainly way more than our little area’s had,” Sen. Shealy said. “So I said that we need to get back up into our area and make sure that our people get taken care of.”

Lexington Medical Center held free COVID-19 screenings earlier this month at White Knoll High School in Lexington and Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia. More than 1,250 people received screenings at those events.

In a release, Lexington Medical Center stated that they “are thankful for the support of the Midlands community throughout the coronavirus pandemic as they work to keep everyone healthy and safe.”

Further questions about testing should be directed to DHEC at www.scdhec.gov or (803) 898-3432.