COLLINSVILLE, IL – It was the first key for re-opening the state mentioned by Missouri Governor, Mike Parson, again Tuesday: expanded testing.
The State of Illinois jumped ahead of Missouri with new rules now in effect at testing sites statewide.
New guidelines from Illinois Department of Public Health allow for testing of large groups of people, even if they have no symptoms.
Those groups include people with risk factors like chronic health issues or exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 patient; also, anyone who works at a health care facility, jail, prison, and all first responders; plus, essential workers like those at grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, gas stations, along with sanitation and utility workers.
Also announced Tuesday, 10 Illinois State Police forensic scientists and one DNA research coordinator, have volunteered to lend their expertise to help with coronavirus testing at labs in Chicago, Springfield, and Carbondale. Another 14 are ready to make the move from crime labs to COVID labs if needed.
“Now they’re using those skills over at the Department of Public Health to help increase the rate of testing,” said Brendan Kelly, Illinois State Police Director. “Testing is key because that’s how we’re going to be able to safely return to relieving some of these social distancing requirements.”
“The governor (J.B. Pritzker) has just basically said in order to make sure the citizens of Illinois are going to be sure, we’re going open up this statewide testing,” said Herb Simmons, St. Clair County, IL, Emergency Management Agency Director.
He expected a corresponding jump in the number of infections. 33% of those tested in the county had been tested in the past week, he said.
Live updates appear daily on the agency’s Facebook page.
Dr. Alex Garza of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said Missouri was catching up when it came to expanded testing.
“I was out at our lab today and discussing this with them. They did recognize that there are more supplies becoming available now … (but) the flood gates haven’t opened up,” said Dr. Garza.
There’s no word from Dr. Garza or any officials on health screening and referral requirements yet being lifted for expanded testing in Missouri.
However, plans for it were being developed, according to officials in St. Louis, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County.