"Get tested before turkey" was S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster's message to the state during a Thursday press conference.
McMaster said if residents plan to travel or be with their families indoors, they should get tested for COVID-19 to try to limit the spread of the pandemic, as case numbers continue to rise across the state.
"Men and women and children of South Carolina, we have plenty of tests out there for you, plenty of locations," McMaster said. "So, don't wait. Go ahead and get tested before turkey and you'll be glad that you did."
McMaster gave some recommendations for those who will be celebrating the holiday season, including gathering in small groups, spacing out and doing things outside if the weather permits.
McMaster also announced he'll be issuing an executive order in the coming days, directing the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to provide every school district with COVID-19 testing kits so that students, teachers and staff can be tested on a regular basis in every school.
Before any child can be tested, a parent will have to complete a parental consent form.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, interim director of public health at S.C. DHEC, said the tests will be rapid tests and they'll be training school nurses to collect the specimens. The first round of these tests will be aimed at symptomatic students and staff.
Traxler said the goal is to have these tests available for the week after Thanksgiving. The allotment for each school has not been determined yet.
McMaster said there are no plans for a statewide mask mandate and he is not bringing back any of the state restrictions from earlier in the pandemic.
"We want South Carolina to open," McMaster said. "We have not closed, we will not close. It’s important for business, it’s important for people to have jobs so they can support their families and grow."
South Carolina health authorities confirmed 31 new COVID-19 cases in Aiken County on Thursday.
S.C. DHEC confirmed a total of 1,410 cases and 17 deaths across the state Thursday. No deaths were reported in Aiken County.
The data reported Thursday is for the date of Nov. 18.
This brings the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Aiken County to 5,223 as of Thursday with 84 coronavirus-related deaths.
The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC statewide on Nov. 18 was 9,729, and the percent positive was 14.5%.
The total number statewide is now 189,251 confirmed cases, 11,909 probable cases, 3,924 confirmed deaths and 277 probable deaths.
Want to get tested?
USC Aiken continues to offer coronavirus testing Wednesday through Monday each week at the USCA Convocation Center from 1 to 6 p.m. It is a saliva test, and residents spit into a vial. Residents are not required to bring an insurance card, but will need a driver's license or a USC Aiken ID. To pre-register, visit rrtesting.com/uscaiken.