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State of emergency will help state health lab test more COVID-19 kits

Changes brought about by the national and state of emergency will allow the Missouri Public Health Laboratory to test more COVID-19 kits.

According to Bill Whitmar, the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory Director, more funding from the federal and state governments and new FDA compliance provides the lab with the ability to test COVID-19 kits more efficiently.

"What the FDA is doing is realizing we can't be so narrowly confined to buy certain things now and they're broadening that category of items we can utilize to test and that frees up the laboratories, the state public health laboratories, to test more easily."

Now, instead of having two samples, a nasal swab and a throat swab, the state lab can ask hospitals to submit one nasal swab to be tested.

Whitmar said the emergencies along with new FDA guidelines allow for the lab to use additional resources they were not able to tap into before.

"Instead of requiring us to go with one type of extraction kit, now we can utilize different types of extraction kits and utilize different types of resources that we couldn't have access to in the past," Whitmar said.

Governor Parson, in his delivery today, said the state will forward more funding and additional equipment and supplies to partners like hospitals and clinics, which Whitmar is looking forward to.

"I think the biggest change is there will be additional funding available to the state as we might need additional supplies because there are going to be more specimens into the laboratory," Whitmar said.

Whitmar says there has been a steady increase in tests each day starting with single digits and growing to around 20 today and tomorrow they expect over 30.

The lab has ordered additional COVID-19 testing kits but they are still on backorder however, the new edits from the FDA will extend the resources in house.

As more positives are detected in the community, Whitmar said he expects to see more tests coming in.

Whitmar said partnerships with MU, Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp, VeriCore out of Kansas City and Washington University, are now further solidified for testing and they are all willing to help each other with the pandemic.

"This is a marathon, its not a sprint, and we want to save our precious personnel resources so that we can address this marathon as it goes down the road to the finish line," Whitmar said.

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Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto anchors the weekend morning and weekday 9 a.m. & noon newscasts for ABC 17. You can find up-to-the-minute information on Zach’s social media, @ABC17Zach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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