Gov. Parson says Missouri will ramp up COVID-19 testing by April 1

parson in kcmo.jfif
Posted at 12:57 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 18:47:03-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — By April 1, Missouri will have the capacity to conduct thousands of tests every day for the novel coronavirus, Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday after a meeting with Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas.

"The number one issue that we know is on people's minds is the testing process," Parson said. "We think they'll be some significant changes to that in probably the next couple of weeks."

Those changes start Tuesday when Parson expects a lab at Washington University in St. Louis to be online and capable of doing roughly 50 tests per day. The University of Missouri is also working on using its lab to test for COVID-19.

By April 1, Parson predicts private organizations such as LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics will have the capability to do roughly 6,000 tests per day in Missouri.

Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the goal is for Missouri to test basically everyone with a cough and a fever over 100.4 degrees. The governor hopes to set up mobile testing areas in April.

“We certainly feel like we have enough tests to cover the people who we are the most concerned about. But our goal is to move out from that to get everyone as early as they might present, identify them and self-isolate them,” Williams said.

So far, the state has tested 170 people for COVID-19. Parson said six tests have come back positive. Three in Greene County, two in St. Louis County, and one in Henry County.

Parson warned the government can only do so much, and each person has an obligation to approach the pandemic seriously.

"At the end of the day, people are going to have to take some responsibility on their own,” he said. “The government isn't going to be able to fix all this. We're going to be there to do everything we can possibly to help the people of this state but at some point, there's going to have to be some common-sense use and there's going to have to be some personal responsibility of how we deal with this issue."

Part of the governor’s approach is a recommendation Sunday to limit gatherings to 50 people or fewer. The recommendation does not apply to schools or businesses such as offices and restaurants. Lucas took that recommendation and made it the rule in Kansas City for the next eight weeks.

Lucas said he would not issue a recommendation about closing schools. He is exploring the idea of capping capacity at restaurants, especially with St. Patrick’s Day typically drawing large crowds to bars.