MEXICO, MO.  - Nanda Nunnelly started NextGen Diagnostic Services in Joplin last winter with the goal of providing accessible COVID-19 testing.

"We had the idea that instead of people going into doctors offices, getting out in the community. Why not go to people?" Nunnelly said. "We would meet them on their front porch, we'd meet them in their car, in their driveway with them, on parking lots and we would test them."

Since then, her efforts have expanded to include hosting testing clinics in communities across the state, including Wednesday's in Mexico. They encourage all people to get tested, whether or not they have symptoms.

"We encourage all people to get tested," Nunnelly said. "It gives us an overall - a better view of what is actually happening in the community."

Jaimie Hawkins got tested with her son at Wednesday's clinic. She said he was showing symptoms.

"With being back to school, my son has been around a lot of children," Hawkins said. "We wanted to make sure he was safe."

Hawkins herself had no symptoms.

"It's important to make sure that even though that I am fully vaccinated, I'm not trying to spread it to other people, just in case I do have it and I'm asymptomatic," Hawkins said.

The clinic took place outside Audrain Community Hospital. CEO Amy O'Brien noted the importance of testing in her own community. Audrain County has 51 active cases, and the 7-day positivity rate is 6.6%, as of Wednesday.

"Here in Audrain County, we are still in the red zone," O'Brien said. "Having these testing sites available is I think paramount to us getting through this pandemic."

Nunnelly's team in Audrain County was just one of four carrying out their mission throughout the state: normalizing testing.

"I like to think about it as normalizing testing, making it a normal thing," Nunnelly said. "We know people who have no symptoms can can actually be positive. So why not be tested?"

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