MISSOURI, USA — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is increasing its testing capabilities and expanding its testing parameters for tests run in the state lab.
A news release from the department said the state could run 50,000 tests per week "if needed" between the state lab and numerous private testing facilities. One part of the testing increase has been rapid point-of-care testing that has been deployed to local health departments. In St. Louis County, the Abbott-developed devices are being used to focus on nursing homes.
"St. Louis County is excited to have Abbott testing available to our high-risk populations,” said Spring Schmidt, St. Louis County Department of Public Health Co-Director. “Many of our current efforts are focused on prevention at nursing facilities, and having access to this type of test helps us provide care, and understand any additional course of action needed. Bottom line, additional testing is good for St. Louis County, and more data and information is powerful as we navigate through the pandemic."
Locally, the devices have been distributed to Jefferson County, St. Charles County, St. Louis County and St. Louis.
Because of the increase in testing availability, the requirements for a test run by the state lab have been loosened to allow more at-risk groups and healthcare workers to be tested.
Under the new guidelines, people with a fever or showing symptoms will automatically be allowed to get a state-run test if they are a:
- healthcare worker
- law enforcement officer
- first responder
- patient at a living facility whose residents are considered high-risk
- hospitalized patient
- high-risk patient
If the person does not meet one of those criteria, they can still get a state-run test if they have come in contact with a COVID-19 case or a suspected case within 14 days of the onset of symptoms.
If the patient does not meet those criteria either, a doctor can prescribe the person be tested, but the test will have to be run by a private lab.
As of April 23, Missouri has more than 6,300 cases and 247 deaths.