Parson: Missouri Can’t Test All Seniors In COVID-19 Affected Nursing Homes Due To Test Shortage

Mar 26, 2020

Missouri Governor Mike Parson has begun regular updates on the coronavirus outbreak though his Facebook Live page.
Credit Facebook Live Screenshot / Governor Mike Parson on Facebook

Governor Mike Parson said Thursday if he could prioritize the testing of all residents in nursing homes where there’s been a coronavirus outbreak, he would – but he says he cannot due to a shortage of tests. 

Parson was responding to a question from KSMU-Ozarks Public Radio about state protocol that currently says only those residents with COVID-19 symptoms will be tested, even in facilities where the coronavirus has been confirmed.

“I would be willing to change that if it was possible to do. But I know every day there’s a shortage of the test kits that are out there.  And we have to allocate which ones we think are a priority for our state.  As much as I would like to test everyone today who would like to be tested, the reality is:  we just don’t have the tests.  They don’t have it nationally,” Parson said.

This contradicts what President Donald Trump announced March 6 during a visit to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention when he said that "anybody that needs a test gets a test."

Missouri Governor Mike Parson said one priority for COVID-19 testing right now is the health care work force Missouri will rely heavily on to fight the coronavirus battle.

Five people tested positive for COVID-19 at a Springfield assisted living facility this week, according to spokeswoman Kathryn Wall of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department; three of those individuals have since died. State and local officials are investigating the cases in an effort to prevent the spread within that facility but say they cannot test all residents because of a shortage of tests.  It was unclear from DHSS whether residents who are found to have been in close contact with the confirmed cases would be tested. See our earlier reporting on that here.

The state protocol is an ominous indication of what the outbreak might look in other long-term residential care facilities across Missouri. 

Nursing homes and other assisted living facilities in Missouri have closed their doors to visitors in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In Washington state, more than two dozen seniors have died from COVID-19 complications at a long-term care and nursing facility. The public health department in King County, Washington, where those deaths occurred, says availability of testing continues to be a problem there, too.