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Parson says state targeting long-term care facilities for widespread coronavirus testing

Parson says state targeting long-term care facilities for widespread coronavirus testing

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JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson on Monday announced plans to expand COVID-19 testing at facilities where people are in close contact, which he said will lead to more known coronavirus cases in Missouri.

“We have significantly increased our testing capacity, and now we must be thinking of ways to increase the number of tests being done,” he said. “As we do this, it is important to remember that the more tests we do, the more positive cases there will be.”

He cautioned against reading too far into those numbers because not all people who test positive for the coronavirus are hospitalized. 

“Some people with the virus do not show symptoms at all,” Parson said.

He said the state would deploy tests to “high-risk settings” such as long-term care facilities. Parson said 163 such facilities have had at least one known case of the new coronavirus; 91 have reported at least one case within the past two weeks, Parson said. He said 41 of the 91 have undergone facility-wide testing.

“We were able to move in quickly and be able to test everyone in those facilities,” he said, adding the state would work with the other 50 homes this week to complete facility-wide testing at those locations. 

Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said the state was also exploring “periodic surveillance” testing at meatpacking plants and long-term care facilities throughout the summer.

He also encouraged Missourians experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested.

Parson did not commit to testing every offender and staff member within the Department of Corrections, but said the state would be “very extremely aggressive on testing.

“We’re going to pick up the pace here,” he said. “Whether it’s the Department of Corrections, the state workers, it’s people that go to church — you know it really doesn’t matter to me. ... The ones that want to be tested, we want to provide that test for them.”

DHSS reported 156 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing Missouri’s total to 10,945 known cases.

According to the Missouri Hospital Association, 550 confirmed COVID-19 patients, or patients suspected of having the virus, were hospitalized on Monday. Seventy-nine patients were placed on ventilators, the association reported.

On May 7, the hospital association reported 917 hospitalizations, with 141 patients placed on ventilators.

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