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Decreased coronavirus test demand leads to canceled testing events


Coronavirus testing events and sites in Mid-Missouri are closing or being canceled as fewer people seek out tests.

A state-run testing event in Callaway County was canceled Tuesday. In recent weeks other drive-thru locations at MU Health Care, Boone Hospital Center, Capital Regional Medical Center, SSM Health St. Mary's and Fulton Medical Center have all been discontinued.

"The turnout for testing registrations in central Missouri have been so low that some of these have had to be canceled," said Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Cox said the state continues to encourage people to be tested if they’ve had significant exposure to the virus or have symptoms.

Dr. Randall Williams with DHSS said the decrease in testing is a trend that is happening nation wide. He wants to continue to encourage Missourians to do the practices that have been so successful.

Williams said Missouri now has the lowest number of cases in the United States after surpassing Hawaii. He said the testing process has worked well and needs to continue.

"With the UK variant being about 30% of all the cases in the United States now, it is more infectious, causes you to get sicker, and even causes more mortality, we want to really encourage people to get tested" said Williams

Boone Hospital Center spokeswoman Madison Loethen said the decrease in demand appears to be linked to the decreasing rates of new cases.

"With an increase in the number of people vaccinated, we hope to see that trend continue," Loethen said.

SSM Health spokeswoman Jessica Royston said the hospital continues to offer coronavirus tests through its primary care and other offices.

MU Health still offers testing even after closing its drive-thru testing site, spokesman Eric Maze said.

Maze said MU Health Care conducted 1,685 COVID-19 tests over the week after the drive-thru site closed -- just 11% short of the weekly total of tests conducted during the final week the drive-thru site was open.

MU Health Care Chief Nursing Officer Mary Beck said, "We have seen a decrease in the number of people that are getting tested and we believe it's just because there is less prevalence of Covid-19."

Beck said this is a positive for the state and shows that numbers are headed in the right direction. She said she believes less people are having symptoms.

Beck said a large number of people are asymptomatic and do not seek testing. "That's why we should not let our guard down, continue to wear our masks, and that we socially distance when appropriate."

Since people are starting to travel again, Beck said people have came in to get tested beforehand.

Beck said people who need tests are urged to call their primary care doctor or seek out an urgent care appointment.

Missouri is averaging about 8,300 coronavirus PCR tests -- the nasal swab variety -- per day, according to the state coronavirus dashboard.

The state counted 58,290 PCR tests the week of March 14 compared to 174, 665 the week of Nov. 15, at the peak of testing demand.

With the testing numbers decreasing, so has the rate of positive tests. The rate was 4% as of Saturday compared to 22.7% on Nov. 11.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Chanel Porter

Chanel joined ABC 17 News in January 2021 after graduating from Penn State University. She enjoys traveling and a daily iced coffee.


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