S.C. doctor urges people to take COVID-19 seriously; opens 3 drive-thru testing locations

Updated: Mar. 24, 2020 at 7:38 PM EDT
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SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - A Sumter County doctor is joining the chorus of physicians urging people to take the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, seriously.

Dr. Clay Lowder is one of the owners of Colonial Healthcare, which has three locations in Sumter, Columbia and Manning.

He says if people don’t stay at home and practice social distancing, the coronavirus situation in South Carolina is only going to get worse.

“This is a pivotal two weeks in the time of our state," Lowder explained. "I don’t want South Carolina to peak. I don’t want them to have to shut this state down, but I’m close to it because it’s critical. Don’t rest on it this week.”

Colonial Healthcare has blocked off its waiting rooms to anyone who thinks they could have the virus to help contain the spread.

Doctors are in the process of implementing drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at all of its facilities in the Midlands. The facility in Sumter started conducting drive-thru tests last Wednesday and the testing in Columbia and Manning should open in the next few days, the doctor said.

For more info on each location, click or tap here.

“You assume that everybody you come in contact with has the coronavirus,” Lowder said. “You act and pretend like you have the coronavirus, that way you do unto others as you would want to have them do unto you.”

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 -- fever, cough and shortness of breath -- can walk up to the front door of any location, where they’ll find a phone number to send a text message.

After sending the text, a nurse comes out to the patient’s vehicle to check their vitals. Then, a doctor or nurse practitioner decides if the person should be tested for the coronavirus, the flu or both.

“If you have symptoms, we are testing you, and so most people we are testing,” Lowder said. “Yesterday, we did 144 tests, so we’re doing most folks.”

The doctor says it usually takes three to four days to receive the results of a COVID-19 test. Lowder says Colonial Healthcare reports all tests to DHEC.

Lowder also has an important message for the younger generation -- they are not immune to the virus.

“We have had a lot of young people that have this," Lowder said. "We had a young lady yesterday that’s pregnant, she’s 25. We have some 21 year olds. There’s a lot more than you think.”

Lowder says people also don’t have to have a fever to test positive for the virus.

“If you have any cold symptoms at all, you still could have corona," the doctor explained. “Please take a 14-day quarantine. Don’t wait on the government, do it on your own.”

Colonial Healthcare doctors say staying at home doesn’t just help ensure the health care system doesn’t get overwhelmed, but it also saves lives.

Lowder says for every one test he finds that’s positive, there are at least 100 other people out there who have the disease and don’t know it.

Thankfully for his practice, Lowder says Colonial Healthcare ordered extra PPE before the virus hit, so he believes they are well-prepared to handle the influx of patients they expect over the next few days and weeks.

Because there is no treatment for COVID-19, Colonial Healthcare advises patients who test positive for the virus to take Tylenol three times a day and to drink plenty of fluids.

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