Missouri will offer free COVID-19 testing this week in Independence

Businesses consider testing employees to get them back to work
Posted at 4:01 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 08:45:13-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will conduct free community testing for any state resident next week in six counties, including Jackson County.

The goal is to test 10,000 people during a 10-day span in Jackson, Boone, Cape Girardeau, Greene, Jefferson and St. Charles counties.

“Community sampling gives the state a better sense of COVID-19 prevalence in a given area, which will help guide its response and ease uncertainty for Missourians,” according to a release announcing the testing from the state health department. “If prevalence is low, this will help reassure citizens that it is safe to begin re-engaging in the community and returning to somewhat normal operations. If prevalence is higher, quick and proactive steps will be taken to keep the virus from spreading further in the community.”

The free testing in Jackson County will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 26-30 at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, formerly Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.

"If they pre-register , we have two lanes for that, they will get asked a questionnaire, there's 12 questions just how you're feeling today," Captain Andrew Rodenberg said. "And then they will get some paperwork, get their test, that test will be dropped off into a cooler safely, and then they can pull off and hopefully it goes pretty quick."

Online pre-registration is encouraged. Anyone wishing to get tested but lacking internet access can call the Missouri COVID-19 hotline for assistance at 877-435-8411.

“We have worked hard to determine how to best utilize the testing capacity we now have in our state in order to protect the health of Missourians,” DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said in a statement.

Testing, which will be paid for with CARES Act funds, will be done via nasal swab. Individuals do not need to live in the county where the test is conducted, nor must they be experiencing symptoms.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Williams have said the goal is to increase testing to 7,500 Missouri residents per day as the primary strategy for containing the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important testing is to our overall recovery plan,” Parson said. “All four pillars of our recovery plan are important, but testing will be the key. The more testing we do, the more knowledge we have on what the situation in Missouri actually looks like, and the better-equipped we are to move forward.”

Missouri plans a “very aggressive” testing strategy during the next two weeks and will re-evaluate its strategy for battling the virus after testing has increased sufficiently.

"They can look at those numbers and we can really start to dive in and see how prevalent this is, if were on the right track," Kayla Parker with Jackson County Health Department said. "If we need to recalculate where things are going , how the pace of reopening is going. And if were looking at things the same way we have before or if we need to adjust our lens and say, 'oh this is more prevalent than it was before or if this is in line with our estimates.'"

Testing also will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at the following locations during the 10-day window:

Boone County
June 1-2 — Columbia Hickman High School

Cape Girardeau County
June 5 — Arena Park, Cape Girardeau

Greene County
June 4-5 — Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, Springfield

Jefferson County
June 1-2 — Faith Community Church, House Springs
June 3 — Hillsboro Civic Center, Hillsboro

St. Charles County
May 26-28 — St. Charles County Public Health Department, St. Charles
May 29-30 — The Youth Activity Park, Dardenne Prairie