When Sumter County public schools open on Aug. 24, students and teachers may be able to get results of COVID-19 tests within 24 to 48 hours, County Administrator Bradley Arnold told commissioners Tuesday.
Arnold said the county health department is coordinating with state labs to ensure a quick turnaround for testing results.
A nationwide problem with testing has been that some results take a week or more to receive, which renders the tests meaningless in many cases.
Lake County is using anti-body tests, but Arnold said Sumter County schools will use infection testing with nasal or throat swabs. He said a courier service may be used to speed deliveries of the tests and results.
Sumter County’s cases have been boosted by a high infection rate at the Coleman federal prison, the county administrator said. As of Tuesday, the county had 23 people hospitalized with the virus including five in intensive care units. Forty-one people have died.
Last month, parents were asked to opt for one of three school options. They could choose the traditional school model, the Sumter Virtual School or TEAMSumter eLearning.
In the traditional model, students will attend daily classes with safeguards to prevent virus transmissions. The Sumter Virtual School allows a flexible schedule in which students can work on assignments during non-traditional hours and maintain contact with teachers and classmates through the internet.
Using TEAMSumter eLearning, students follow a traditional school schedule remotely. They may return to classrooms after the first semester.
Arnold also reported that an agreement has been completed to distribute $309,029 in state funds to residents who need help with rent and mortgage payments. Commissioners approved the program at their last meeting.
But commissioners rejected a request for a moratorium on late payments owed by program recipients.
The county also is accepting applications for federal CARES Act funding from local businesses. The money must be used for expenses related to the virus.
Arnold said some aspects of Sumter County’s economy are strong despite COVID-19.
“Housing and commercial permits are both on the rise,” he said. “It appears there’s still some pent-up demand for development.”