Parson discusses schools, education during pandemic

Gov. Mike Parson discusses the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Missouri schools Tuesday, March 24.

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Mike Parson announced on Wednesday, May 13, a series of testing priorities designed to detect and rapidly contain potential COVID-19 outbreaks as the state gradually reopens its economy.

“One of our primary focuses during this pandemic is testing. It helps protect the safety of Missourians as we begin to reopen our economy and get Missourians back to work,” Parson said. “Testing capacity gives people the confidence needed to get back to normal.”

The priorities outlined by the state are designed to help identify potential outbreaks through community sampling, to contain new localized outbreaks through the rapid deployment of tests and support resources and to expand access to vulnerable populations, health care workers, first responders and workers in other critical industries.

“Testing has been a cornerstone of our strategy to identify and mitigate disease from the very start of the COVID-19 outbreak,” Dr. Randall Williams, director for the Department of Health and Senior Services, said. “At DHSS, we are working with physicians and local health care providers to ensure that they understand the importance of testing, to protect the health and safety of all Missourians.”

DHSS announced expanded testing criteria last month to encourage physicians to expand testing especially for vulnerable and at risk populations.

Testing capacity in Missouri continues to increase.

Between the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory, at least 15 private national and in-state laboratories, and participating health care institutions, approximately 60,000 tests could be performed in Missouri each week if needed.

The state has also worked with local and federal partners as well as private labs to expand the number of test kits, lab capacity and personal protective equipment available statewide to ensure expanded access to testing.

Testing capacity, including swab and media tube supply availability, continues to increase in Missouri.

Clinicians are being encouraged by DHSS to exercise their best medical judgement with an eye toward expanding authorizations for a wider group of Missourians to access COVID-19 diagnostic testing as efforts continue to learn more about the virus, its composition, transmissibility and resilience.

Jim Dumbauld, senior director for Quest Diagnostics, joined Parson on Wednesday for the daily COVID-19 briefing.

Parson states Quest Diagnostics has been an integral part for testing in Missouri.

Quest’s 1,200 Missouri employees operate:

  • Four laboratories
  • Thirty-four Patient Service Centers
  • Phlebotomy services in ninety-five doctors’ offices

Last year, Quest Diagnostics served nearly 900,000 patients in Missouri and has more than a dozen working relationships with hospitals, health care systems, community health centers and the VA hospital.

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