Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to participate?
Your participation in this initiative is completely voluntary. You can decide to participate, or decide not to participate, or change your mind about participating at any time. Your decision to take part will not affect any services you might receive from DHEC.
Why am I being asked to participate?

Public health officials and state leaders need to understand which communities and populations have been most impacted from COVID-19 and which areas are the most susceptible. Random selection of residents allows for equitable representation of all people living in the state.

Can I participate if I have had the COVID-19 vaccine or plan to have it shortly?
Yes! You are still able to participate in this testing initiative if you have already completed your COVID-19 vaccination, are in the middle of your vaccine schedule, or plan to have it soon.
Who is being selected for this testing?

Anyone living in the state of South Carolina aged 5 years and older are included in the testing selection lottery.

Do I have to make an appointment?

Yes – if you are going to a clinic partner for testing. Our clinic partners will be working you into their normal schedules and would like for you to make an appointment so they can best provide quick testing for you. Yes – if you are home-bound, do not have transportation access, or have special needs. We are partnering with EMTs that can come to your house. We have a limited number of these home visit opportunities, so please reserve these spots for those who most need it. No – if you are going to a pop-up community testing site. We have reserved specific days, times, and locations of pop-up community testing sites that will offer both the virus and antibody testing. Since these sites have already been reserved, you will not need to make an appointment for this option.

Can I go to any health clinic or community pop-up testing site, even if it is not a participating clinic listed on the Testing Locations tab of this website?

No, we will have a select number of participating pop-up testing site with a trained phlebotomist present. Most testing sites only have nasal swab testing available and are not able to offer the project testing.

Is this a research study?

No. This testing initiative is a part of pandemic public health response of our state health department. Our protocol was reviewed by the University of South Carolina Institutional Review Board and was considered to be exempt of human subjects research.

Will I get my test results?

Yes, you will receive test results either from the clinic or community testing event site. Due to privacy concerns, we will not be able to release our test results through the hotline.

Will my information be private?

Yes, by working with existing medical clinics and established pop-up testing sites all medical information will remain confidential

Can I participate if I did not receive an invitation letter?

No. Unfortunately the cost of testing can be covered only for those who received an invitation letter. However, others may seek testing through traditional routes. (e.g. existing community testing sites or their personal physician)

Do I have to give blood AND get a nasal swab?

Yes. It is important that we have matched samples and we would ask that you participate in both active disease testing and antibody testing at the same time.

Do I have to complete the health survey?

Yes, this private survey will help public health official understand how local residents feel about testing, social distancing and mask wearing, and how the population is reacting to the pandemic. This is your chance to get your voice heard about how you are responding to the pandemic.

Do I have to pay for my test?

No. All participants with an invitation letter/unique ID number will be offered a free virus and antibody test. Two unique id numbers are listed on each letter so that you and one additional member of your household can participate. You will not be asked to provide any insurance information. However, your family or friends who do not have unique id numbers are not able to get tested as a part of this testing initiative. They can seek free virus testing at any of DHEC’s community pop-up testing sites.

Can I participate again if I have participated already in this project?
Yes. If you received a blue envelope and invitation letter to participate in the current May-June 2021 cycle, but have participated in a previous cycle, you are welcome to participate again.
What if there are no children in my household that wish to participate?

Any additional member of your household may use the second unique ID number to participate. We would like for children aged 5 to 18 yrs to participate as your second household member, since children are of interest to public health planners, but anyone can be the second household member. Inviting an additional member of your household to participate is optional. You may also participate by yourself if you wish.

Can I still participate if I am home bound?

Yes. If you are interested, an EMT will come to your home to complete the testing for you. Please email or call the hotline (e: scstrong@sc.edu, p: 803-576-7378) if you would like to take advantage of this service. We will have a limited number of EMT’s available, so this service is only available for those who are home bound.

What are antibodies?

Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to an infection and are specific to that particular infection. They are found in the liquid part of blood specimens, which is called serum or plasma, depending on the presence of clotting factors. At this time, it is unknown for how long antibodies persist following infection and if the presence of antibodies confers protective immunity.

How long does it take to get the antibody results?
Up to 10 Days.
Does this test tell me how many antibodies I have?

No, this is a qualitative test. By detecting SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a blood sample, this diagnostic assay provides a simple “positive or negative” answer as to whether or not antibodies are present. It doesn’t indicate the strength of the immune response.

Does this require fasting or dietary restrictions?
No.
How much blood do you take?
Roughly 10 mL (2 tsp).
What if my antibody test comes back negative even though I’ve had my vaccine?

Antibody tests results should not be interpreted as evidence of a specific level of protection from the coronavirus. Please contact your medical provider for questions.

I want to talk to a person

To talk to a member of our hotline team please call 803-576-7378

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Have a different question?

Please contact us at 803-576-7378 or scstrong@sc.edu