By Riley Morningstar

The Journal

SENECA — State health officials are encouraging South Carolinians to get tested for COVID-19 at no charge this week, as virus cases appear to be on an upward climb in the state.

 South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control officials will be at the Seneca Health Department at 609 N. Townville St. from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Thursday. DHEC recommends the public get tested once a month for those who are out in the community and unable to socially distance or wear a mask. Results can be expected to come back within 72 hours.

Community testing hosted by the Medical University of South Carolina and Clemson University will be held from 2-7 p.m. Thursday at the Blue Ridge Community Center at 315 Holland Ave. in Seneca. No appointment is necessary for this event, and results will be returned in five to seven days.

“Routine testing allows public health workers to diagnose those who are asymptomatic and interrupt the ongoing spread of the virus,” DHEC said in a news release.

A combined 1,909 positive tests were reported in South Carolina this weekend, the highest numbers since the beginning of September.

Oconee County numbers have also dropped from the previously reported peak in late September.

Testing is free and open to anyone regardless of symptoms. No appointments or doctor’s notes are required. Those looking to be tested can preregister at scdhec.gov/gettested.

“Testing for COVID-19 is essential, because it helps identify people who are infected with the virus, whether or not they have symptoms, so they can isolate themselves and keep those around them from becoming infected, especially at-risk individuals who can develop life-threatening illness if they contract the virus,” DHEC said in the statement. “Identifying those with COVID-19 who have symptoms helps ensure they receive the medical treatment they need.”

In Pickens County, free testing is planned at the Pickens Health Department at 200 McDaniel Ave. in Pickens from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Testing will happen at the same location from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

DHEC is also reminding residents to partake in Halloween events this year with caution — staying outside and making no physical contact.