JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson wants to ramp up COVID-19 testing across the state.
"We have the testing capacity and we have to find ways to use that capacity to test as many people as we can," Parson said during his briefing Tuesday afternoon.
His administration has a goal of performing 7,500 tests per day, starting next week.
"The more tests we can do today also prepares us more for this fall when school systems open up, when the universities open up. When the flu season gets here again, it's important we do more testing so that we're prepared."
Since March 7, the state has tested more than 154,000 people.
"It is critical to understand that the more tests we do, the more positive cases there will be," he said, adding that it's important to note most people who have tested positive have been able to recover.
As of Monday, the percent of tests coming back positive in Missouri — also known as the positivity rate — was 7.28%. That number has been trending down since peaking at 10% on April 19. That number can represent an increase in testing capacity, a decrease in the spread of the virus or both.
Parson said increased testing is critical to rebuilding the economy.
There have been 11,080 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state and 616 deaths, as of May 19, according to the state's website.
Parson also urged caution ahead of the holiday weekend, reminding people to continue to practice social distancing.
He said the data show the hospitals across the state are not overwhelmed. There are 721 COVID-19 patients currently in the hospital and 103 patients are on ventilators.
The state is currently in phase one of its "Show Me Strong" recovery plan, allowing all businesses across the state to reopen if local leaders agree.