COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said Tuesday that they received 15,000 COVID-19 test results from an out-of-state lab that were delayed, dating back to March, which were added to DHEC's updated total case count on Tuesday.
DHEC said Augusta University Healthcare in Georgia reported test results on Monday that cover a time frame of March 18 through September 17. Approximately 13,000 of the results are negative and 2,000 are positive, however these positive test results do not mean they are active cases.
DHEC said the the lab is expected to have reported the results in a timely manner to the health care providers who submitted the specimens, who then relay the test results to their patients. Providers are expected to report positive results to DHEC. This delay in the lab reporting results directly to DHEC means DHEC was unaware of the results for all South Carolina residents whose specimens were tested at Augusta University Healthcare and unable to perform contact investigations for every one of these positive cases.
“Different states have different reporting requirements and mechanisms in place for how laboratories report test results, which has resulted in delayed test results being reported not just in South Carolina but across the country,” said Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC physician and Chief Medical Officer in a news release. “Many states’ public health agencies are working through these issues. The overwhelming majority of private laboratories are quickly reporting negative and positive test results to DHEC, however, we’re aware of out-of-state labs who may not know about South Carolina’s COVID-19 reporting requirements. We are continuing our outreach to private labs that perform testing of South Carolina residents’ specimens to ensure the information is relayed to us not just by health care providers but also directly from the labs performing the tests.”
The agency said as a reminder, the standard process for how COVID-19 test result notification works is as follows:
- Health care provider collects a patient’s specimen
- Health care provider submits the specimen to a lab
- The lab performs the test
- The lab reports the test result to the health care provider who submitted the specimen and to DHEC
- The health care provider relays the test result to the patient and notifies DHEC
- DHEC begins its case investigation of a positive case
DHEC said COVID-19 is an urgently reportable condition, per the South Carolina List of Reportable Conditions. Negative and positive test results are required to be reported to the agency within 24 hours.
Latest COVID-19 Update
DHEC announced 739 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 30 additional confirmed deaths. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 137,406 and confirmed deaths to 3,067.
DHEC officials says there are hundreds of testing opportunities available statewide. Currently, there are 403 mobile testing events scheduled through October 31 and there are 253 permanent COVID-19 testing facilities across the state. To find a testing site near you, click here.
As of Monday, a total of 1,271,177 tests have been conducted in the state. A detailed breakdown can be found here.
DHEC reports 5,160 tests were reported statewide on Tuesday with 14.3% of those tests coming back positive. This does not include the antibody tests.