State adds available testing options
Lisa Cox, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
JEFFERSON CITY, MO – With the increase in COVID-19 activity, and the introduction of the Omicron variant, there has been a sharp increase in demand for COVID-19 testing. The increased demand represents an important step taken by the public to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“In addition to staying current on COVID vaccinations and boosters, getting tested is a key step the public can take to protect others, particularly as Missourians are spending more time indoors with the cooler temperatures. The risk for the transmission of respiratory illnesses increases as individuals spend more time indoors with others,” said Donald Kauerauf, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “We are grateful to see individuals deciding to get tested to limit any unintended spread of the virus.”
According to media reports, it has become increasingly difficult to locate available rapid COVID-19 tests on retailers’ shelves or obtain an appointment from a provider. Separately, state-operated testing resources have been stretched during the recent holiday influx of demand, but resources remain available and are being expanded further.
The State of Missouri has continued providing drive-through community testing sites throughout the state and is actively working to add locations and available hours to the St. Louis and Kansas City areas this coming week. The State is also responsible for supplying several entities across the state with testing supplies for their populations, especially the most vulnerable living or working in congregate settings.
In May, the State began offering free at-home testing kits for Missourians. From this program’s inception through Dec. 29, just 6,500 kits had been ordered. On Thursday, the program reached 15,000 orders during the month of December alone. After a temporary pause in availability, kits are available again through this online ordering system. These kits will be available as long as the limited federal funding allows.
Community testing events: Testing event capacity was increased prior to the holiday season, and more is being added in Kansas City and St. Louis beginning Jan. 3. These are drive-through testing events hosted at sites throughout the state. Locations and availability is determined based on current demand in the area and level of transmission. Some sites require pre-registration and scheduling; others allow walk-ins. Review the schedule of community testing events at health.mo.gov/communitytest. Patients do not need to be Missouri residents to be tested through this process. A government-issued ID is not required, but if available, will shorten the onsite registration process. The test used at these community testing events is a PCR test done by an anterior nares swab to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Once tested, individuals will be notified of results no later than 72 hours from the end of the testing event.
At-home test kits: This testing option is available to Missouri residents only. These tests were authorized for emergency use by the FDA, and an individual is able to order the free testing kit online, and the kit will be delivered to the home in two days. The kit is good for six months and comes with easy-to-follow instructions. Once the individual performs the collection by nasal swab, the testing kit needs to be returned to a FedEx collection site within 24 hours. Shipping is also free, and test results are provided via email.
Testing remains a key tool to keeping Missourians safe. Testing is not only for those who are symptomatic, but important for periodic surveillance especially when interacting with vulnerable populations and crowds.
A COVID-19 test is a one-time assessment, and will only show if the individual is infected at the time of the test. For those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, testing is highly recommended. Those who have had significant contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19 should also consider being tested.
How Missourians can get a free COVID-19 vaccine:
- Check for vaccine appointments at Vaccines.gov, where you can search for availability by vaccine type.
- Call the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 1-800-232-0233 (or TTY 1-888-720-7489). Help is available in multiple languages.
- Locate local vaccination events in Missouri at MOStopsCovid.com.
- Seniors can make arrangements using information at MOStopsCovid.com/seniors
- Missouri DHSS COVID-19 Public Hotline
- Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
- Missouri DHSS COVID-19 Public Hotline
How Missourians can get a free COVID-19 test:
About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at http://health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo