COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
As COVID-19 case totals continue to increase across Missouri and Boone County, so does the want and need for more testing, but health officials say some options may not be realistic.
Columbia/Boone County Health Department Assistant Director Scott Clardy said providing free testing to everyone, with or without a doctor’s note, is not realistic for the county right now.
He said it’s one thing to offer everyone to get tested but it's a whole other step for the tests to be free.
Currently, many counties in Missouri, including Boone County, require those who want to be tested for COVID-19 to have a doctor's order.
Clardy said this is because there is not an infinite number of testing supplies.
“They want to prioritize testing supplies for people who are symptomatic or known contacts to a case,” Clardy said. “So that they make sure they have enough testing supplies to test all those folks.”
Clardy said testing for everyone is not a possibility in Boone County right now because the county does not have the resources needed to execute it.
“It would take staffing,” Clardy said. “It would take testing supplies and it would take a place to have it. That would be the first thing and then, you know, the resources to pay for all that would have to be identified too and finding the resources, finding somebody who could do that.”
Clardy said it's one thing to set up testing for anyone who wants a test, but providing free testing is an entirely different battle.
“Do we make it free or not,” Clardy asked. “If we do, how do we pay, because the labs still got to get paid… somebody's got to pay for the testing supplies... somebody's got to pay for the staff that it would take to staff one of these events. So, making it free is just another step beyond just offering it to begin with.”
Clardy said he’s not aware of many insurance companies that are paying for testing if patients don't have a doctor's order to get tested, so people would have to be willing to pay for the test.
Clardy said each test cost around $150 a specimen when he last checked.
The health department encourages anyone who does not have symptoms or a doctor’s note to take advantage of the National Guard’s free testing events on Monday and Tuesday in Columbia.
Both events are scheduled to be held at the Crossing Church on Southland Drive. Testing will be held Monday 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.