JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri health officials will conduct community sampling for COVID-19 in Boone and several other Missouri counties in the coming weeks.
The testing is part of a state plan to get to 7,500 COVID-19 tests per day. The strategy includes community sampling in Jackson, St. Charles, Jefferson, Greene, Cape Girardeau, Andrew, Pemiscot and New Madrid counties in addition to Boone, state health director Dr. Randall Williams said Thursday.
Boone County Southern District Commissioner Fred Parry later told ABC 17 News the Missouri National Guard would conduct the testing June 1-2 in the Hickman High School parking lot.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below.
Williams took questions at Gov. Mike Parson's regular COVID-19 briefing in the Capitol, which on Thursday focused on the increased testing plan.
Parson said such sampling has already taken place in 13 counties and the state plans to administer about 950 tests per day in additional counties over the next 10 days.
Parson said 9,000 test kits have been delivered to the St. Louis region for community testing and another 9,000 will be sent there soon.
Parson and Williams said the locations were picked for two primary reasons: the ability to draw test subjects and the counties' status as regional centers.
"I want to point out that just because we come to your community does not necessarily mean that there has been a spike or outbreak in your area," Parson said. "The selection of these counties is based on locations with the ability to draw participants from a broader region, and locations that have expressed a need for additional testing resources.
"By doing community testing, we can get a better idea of the prevalence of the virus in these areas, which will help guide our response and ease uncertainty for Missourians."
Those being tested can come from outside the counties where the tests will be administered, Williams said.
The state will also conduct what it calls "sentinel testing" in state residential facilities in 28 counties, including prisons and veterans' homes. And the state will continue its "boxed in" strategy of mass testing in congregated settings where cases are identified, particularly nursing homes.
Tests in congregated settings will account for about 1,850 per day, Parson said.
The governor has repeatedly said increased testing is key to reopening the economy and giving consumers confidence.
"The more testing we do the more knowledge we have on what the situation actually looks like and the better equipped we are to move forward," Parson said.
The state recorded 30 new deaths on Thursday, one of the highest single-day totals of the entire pandemic. Williams addressed a question about the total, saying the state asks for local jurisdictions to report deaths within 24 hours but that doesn't always happen, sometimes leading to larger daily totals.
"But 30 deaths are 30 deaths no matter when they happen and we lament all of those," Williams said.
Williams said the deaths reported Thursday are likely from cases that were confirmed three to four weeks ago. The state reached its peak in daily cases May 2 at 326. The average age of patients killed by COVID-19 is 77, he said.
New daily cases have remained around 140 to 150 recently, Williams said.
Parson cautioned Missourians to be careful over the Memorial Day weekend to help prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.