JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri health officials said Tuesday the state will offer free testing for flu, RSV and the COVID-19 virus through March, citing an increase in cases.
Infections are up in Missouri and nationwide, the Department of Health and Senior Services said in a news release. The state has posted a map showing where free tests are available. Sites will be added to the map as they start the free testing program.
A single nasal swab can provide testing for all three viruses, the department says. Patients of all ages can be tested.
“Although cases overall have not increased in severity, the increased volume has caused a strain on our health care partners,” Dr. George Turabelidze, state epidemiologist, said in the release. “Ultimately, we need families to remember how important it is that they stay home when sick. Also, we are fortunate to have vaccines available for flu and COVID-19, and it’s important to stay up to date on these.”
The state counted 1,738 lab-confirmed flu cases from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5 compared to 1,280 cases the week before. The state has reported 4,016 cases since the flu season started Oct. 2. The department says state trends also show an increase in RSV, which can be severe in children.
People of any age can get RSV but it is most common and most severe in children under 2 and in older adults.
Some Missouri hospitals' resources are strained because of the increased cases, the department says, so people should only use the emergency room for emergencies.