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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on June 18, 2020

Young people have higher rates of COVID-19 among those screened by Tidelands Health

Young people who have been screened at a series of free clinics held along the Grand Strand are testing positive for COVID-19 at a higher rate than older individuals, reinforcing the need for people of all ages to take precautions to limit the spread of the virus.

Tidelands Health, the region’s leader in COVID-19 testing and response, has conducted nearly 5,000 free COVID-19 tests across the region over the past several weeks through an ongoing partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Of more than 500 people ages 16-25 who have been tested at the clinics, 16 percent were positive, followed by 11 percent of adults ages 26-40 and 10 percent of children 15 and under.

By contrast, 6 percent of adults ages 41-64 tested positive, and only 2 percent of people ages 65 and older were infected with COVID-19.

“It’s concerning that such a high percentage of younger people are testing positive for the virus,” says Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs for Tidelands Health. “Although young people are at a lower risk for serious complications from COVID-19, they certainly aren’t immune and can easily spread the disease to people at higher risk, which can include co-workers and family members.”

So far, more than 300 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at the free testing clinics offered by Tidelands Health and DHEC. When individuals test positive, they are asked to isolate themselves pursuant to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. DHEC also conducts contact tracing to help stop the spread of the disease.

Dr. Harmon says it’s important for people to be tested even if they don’t feel ill because an estimated 40 percent of COVID-19 transmissions occur before the onset of symptoms. The health system’s next free drive-through clinic, which can accommodate up to 1,500 people, will take place on Friday, June 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or while supplies last, at Inlet Square Mall in Murrells Inlet. A full schedule of dates and times can be found by clicking here.

“Testing provides important information about your health, and it’s also important to public health officials and health care organizations battling the virus,” Dr. Harmon says. “It helps us better understand the spread of this new virus and the impact it is having on our community.”

In total, as the region’s leader in COVID-19 testing, Tidelands Health has conducted nearly 9,000 COVID-19 tests at free clinics and at the health system’s hospitals and physician offices.

Dr. Harmon says it’s important for everyone – regardless of age – to follow the CDC’s COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

  • Make sure to regularly wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Follow social distancing guidelines by staying at least six feet away from others. Avoid large gatherings.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in places where social distancing is difficult. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • If you aren’t wearing your cloth face covering, cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or use the inside of your elbow. Throw away the tissue and wash your hands immediately afterward.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and can recover at home without medical care. Call 911 immediately if you develop emergency symptoms, including trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake or bluish lips or face.


Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider and MUSC Health affiliate, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 60 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners work side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.