April 23, 2020

Increased testing capacity allows Missouri to expand criteria for patient testing

Media Contact:
Lisa Cox
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services


JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Testing capacity in Missouri continues to increase. Between the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory, and at least 15 private national and in-state laboratories and participating health care institutions, approximately 50,000 tests could be performed each week, if needed. Due to this increased access to testing, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) issued new testing criteria which allows for comprehensive testing in congregate facilities for both staff and patients to be conducted by the state laboratory. The expansion of the criteria also enables more first responders to be tested by the state laboratory.

Along with the greater capacity that has been reached among laboratories, there is also greater access to testing for patients throughout Missouri. More than 100 test sample collection sites can be found throughout the state to date. See interactive map of these sites here.

Additionally, rapid point-of-care testing devices from Abbott have been deployed throughout Missouri, and these tests have already been in use in long-term care facilities experiencing outbreaks. Abbott’s ID NOW COVID-19 test is performed on the ID NOW device. This test allows for medical diagnostic testing at the time and place of patient care, provides COVID-19 results in under 13 minutes and expands the capacity for coronavirus testing for individuals exhibiting symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) as well as for health care professionals and the first responder community. Additionally, this will save Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ensure the state’s critical workforce is safe and able to support the response, as only gloves and a face mask are necessary to administer this rapid point-of-care test.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had announced earlier this month that it was purchasing the ID NOW COVID-19 rapid point-of-care test, developed by Abbott, for state, territorial and tribal public health labs.

“We are grateful that our federal partners were able to make these instruments available,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “In line with our strategy moving forward, these instruments have been deployed to local public health departments in areas that need increased access to testing as well as areas with a high concentration of first responders or clusters of cases in congregate living facilities.” 

While additional cartridges from federal partners should continue to be delivered, a limited number of cartridges and devices are now in place at the following sites:

  • Adair County
  • Barry County/Newton County/ Lawrence County/McDonald County/Stone County
  • Buchanan County/Andrew County/Nodaway County
  • Cass County/Jackson County/Kansas City Health Department
  • Dunklin County/Butler County
  • Howell County
  • Jefferson County
  • Marion County
  • St. Charles County
  • St. Louis City
  • St. Louis County
  • Taney County/Greene County

Abbott team members have been working with providers and health departments to provide training as they begin using the device. Training those using the device is vital to obtaining a quality sample and accurate result.

"St. Louis County is excited to have Abbott testing available to our high-risk populations,” said Spring Schmidt, St. Louis County Department of Public Health Co-Director. “Many of our current efforts are focused on prevention at nursing facilities, and having access to this type of test helps us provide care, and understand any additional course of action needed. Bottom line, additional testing is good for St. Louis County, and more data and information is powerful as we navigate through the pandemic."

Kim Hughes, Director of Nursing with the Dunklin County Health Department said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to offer free COVID-19 testing to our area. With the closing of our hospital two years ago, we have very limited access in our county to medical care as well as limited testing sites. Our rural area, combined with our low socioeconomic population, makes a great fit for this services.”

As part of DHSS’s strategy to “box in” outbreaks of COVID-19, DHSS will also be working closely with local public health agencies to begin tracking outbreaks associated with congregate living facilities. DHSS will publicly report, by county, the number of facilities that have at least two active cases.

“We greatly appreciate the work of our frontline partners in our local health departments and hope this will help them in all of our efforts to mitigate the spread and decrease subsequent morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19,” said Williams.

Along with those who are a confirmed COVID-19 case, individuals being tested for COVID-19 should be considered suspect cases and asked to self-isolate at least until test results are received. This is an important disease control step that will help control the spread of COVID-19.

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