Governor Parson: Missouri is ramping up testing for COVID-19

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COLUMBIA — Missouri Governor Mike Parson met with Columbia city leaders on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Parson has been traveling around the state to brief local leaders. While in town, he said the state is ramping up testing this week.

"The number one question we get every day at the office is where are we at the testing level," Governor Parson said. "The good news is testing levels are going to increase dramatically as days go by and I would say by the 1st of April we are going to be at the capabilities where we could do 10,000 tests per day."

Gov. Parson said the state will do that by combining the resources of the private sector and state government. As of today, the state is working with MU and Washington University in St. Louis to increase testing capacity.

A Drive-thru testing site has been set up in Chesterfield and MU Health is working to set one up in Columbia soon.

While in Columbia, Mayor Brian Treece raised three main concerns with the governor. The first was about  streamlining and accelerating the rate of testing.

"I'm hearing from hospital providers and physicians, that is that it takes 30 to 45 minutes on the phone with the state health lab to authorize a test and then 24 to 48 hours to get those results back," Treece said. "We want our physicians treating a patient and moving on to the next patient, they don't have time to be on the phone."

Treece said he was assured that would change. He also expressed concern for those on the front lines.

"The second issue is to make sure that we have personal protective equipment for our first responders, not just our firefighters, our police officers, as they're doing emergency transports not only to protect themselves, but to also protect the person they're transporting to prevent the spread of that," he said.

Treece said he and Parson also discussed how to deal with the economic impact of the virus.

"We are going to have a lot of part time hourly sub-minimum wage tipped employees that are off work during this crisis," Treece said. "How do we accelerate relief for businesses and their employees to make sure that they're keeping groceries on the table and utility bills paid and all of those things that come childcare taking care of your family, while our schools and businesses are closed."

Parson said is administration is looking at ways to deal with the economic impact.

"There's no doubt it is going to have a dramatic effect on the communities in the business arena," Parson said. "We're working every day to try to figure out okay, what some of those solutions be, whether that is the unemployment or the business side of it."

    Parson also defended his decision to let local school districts make the call on whether or not to call off school.

    “A lot of schools do not have daycare capabilities, they have no place to go unless the kids go back home," he said. "All of those things are things we took into account and we felt the local level elected officials would know best how to do their schools.”

    Governor Parson said people should not just rely on the government to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. He said every one needs to step up to help stop the spread of the virus.

    “Everything we have at the state level, we are putting forward to try to make sure to serve the people of Missouri," he said. "But at the end of the day, it is going to be personal responsibility that is going to be a part of the future of what we are doing to fight the coronavirus.”
    On Tuesday night, the Governor's Office published a detailed list of how the state is responding. His office also issued 13 guidelines to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.
    1. Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.

    2. If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.

    3. If your children are sick, keep them at home. Do not send them to school. Contact your medical provider.

    4. If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, keep the entire household at home. Do not go to work. Do not go to school. Contact your medical provider.

    5. If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people.

    6. If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition that can put you at increased risk (for example, a condition that impairs your lung or heart function or weakens your immune system), stay home and away from other people.

    7. Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others. It is critical that you do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

    8. Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 50 people. 

    9. Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.

    10. Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits.

    11. Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.

    12. Practice good hygiene

    13. Practice common sense and personal responsibility.