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Gov. Parson says Washington University saliva test approved by FDA

Gov. Mike Parson
Posted at 11:45 AM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 13:38:12-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday said that a new saliva-based COVID-19 test developed in Missouri was approved for use by the FDA.

The test was developed at Washington University and will help increase testing volume and turn around results more quickly.

Parson, who was joined Wednesday by Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams, said Missouri is currently testing more than 90,000 people per week.

Randall said the state caught up with testing because of the increase but was a little behind as of Wednesday. He expects the state to be caught up by Friday.

Randall said Missouri is 17th best in the U.S. for case rates. He also said the state's fatality rate has decreased, and he doesn't expect the state's hospitals to be strained by the virus.

Parson said the death rate is less than half a percent as of August.

Despite the lower death rate in the state, Randall continued to emphasize to 20 to 30-year-olds that COVID-19 is "not a benign disease." The state will be focusing on this age group as college students return to school.

The director went on to say that Boone County — where the University of Missouri is located — has seen a recent rise in case rates, and many of them involve college-aged patients.

The governor touted the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and said that the state led the way with one of the first tracking platforms.

"Missourians have all worked extremely hard to get where we are now and we must keep up our efforts," Parson said.

The topic of the briefing then shifted to economic recovery.

Parson shared Missouri's unemployment rate declined from 7.8% in June to 6.9% in July. The state added over 52,000 jobs. The governor said it puts Missouri in the top 10 states in the U.S. with the lowest unemployment rates.

The Missouri Department of Labor will start releasing lost employment assistant payments this week, according to the governor.

Parson also highlighted the state's progress in providing telehealth services and the need to continue to expand rural broadband access.