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May 21, 2020

SCHA Partners with DHEC and MUSC on Statewide Testing Plan

Governor Henry McMaster recently signed a continuing resolution (H.3411) that provides “continued and uninterrupted” operation of the state’s government into the fiscal year beginning July 1, and an additional $25 million to boost South Carolina’s COVID-19 testing efforts.   

The plan approved by state leaders last week directs the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), in consultation with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and SCHA to develop and deploy a statewide COVID-19 testing plan that emphasizes testing in rural communities and communities with a high prevalence of COVID-19. The testing will focus on communities with demographic characteristics consistent with risk factors for COVID-19 including, but not limited to, communities with higher proportions of seniors, African-Americans, or individuals with chronic lung disease, asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, compromised immune systems, diabetes, liver disease, or who are on dialysis. 

The plan will be closely aligned with guidance from accelerateSC, a diverse group of state and industry leaders overseeing South Carolina’s COVID-19 response efforts. SCHA VP of Policy and Finance Christian Soura serves on accelerateSC and has helped lead the state’s work to significantly expand testing capacity to more citizens. South Carolina expects to expand testing to 2% of the state’s population in each of the next two months, which will increase testing to 110,000 tests per month, or 220,000 in May and June combined. 

MUSC will play a central role in helping design and implement the state’s expanded testing plan. “We look forward to leading this innovative mobile/drive through testing effort, and are eager to work with our DHEC and South Carolina Hospital Association partners to decrease access barriers to free COVID-19 testing for our most vulnerable populations,” said MUSC spokesperson Heather Woolwine 

In April the General Assembly sent $45 million to DHEC to help with the state’s response to COVID-19. According to a recent report, $35 million remains from that appropriation. Governor McMaster and state legislators are also working to prioritize South Carolina’s $1.9 billion share of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In a letter, McMaster told legislative leaders that “these relief funds belong to the people of South Carolina, not politicians, and we must deliver them to where they are neededConsideration for their appropriation must be done expeditiously — but also wisely, transparently and with meticulous accountability.” 

McMaster has called on the General Assembly to return to session soon to approve the state’s recommendations from accelerateSC and appropriate South Carolina’s share of CARES funding. SCHA looks forward to helping the state expand testing and advocating for the state’s hospitals and health systems to ensure they are a major component of the state’s relief package.