Missouri expands COVID-19 testing criteria and will decontaminate used N95 masks

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Governor Mike Parson and the Director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state will be expanding the criteria for testing patients for COVID-19.  The announcement came during a briefing delivered through the governor’s Facebook Page. 

DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said the expanded criteria will allow for health care providers to test patients who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic.  Williams said the criteria expansion will also allow for more first responders and health care workers to be tested.  Parson has said testing must be rapidly increased as part of his plan to reopen the state.  

There was also an announcement during Wednesday’s briefing regarding a plan to decontaminate much sought after N95 masks.  The state will establish 13 drop-off and pick-up sites where health care providers can drop off N95 masks for decontamination.  Parson said the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System will be ready next week and allow for health care workers to re-use masks.

“Through this system, we will have the maximum capacity to decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 masks per day if needed,” said Parson.  “By helping conserve PPE, this will be a huge benefit to our overall recovery plan.”

The system is 100% federally funded through federal dollars, according to Mo HealthNet Director Todd Richardson. 

“The decontamination system is the result of two decades of research and it has received approval through the food and drug administration,” said Todd Richardson, MoHealthNet Director.

The system is expected to be available to the state for approximately 6 months.

Parson said he remains focused on a plan to reopen the state beginning May 4th.  He said more details about that plan will be released in the coming days.  Parson echoed comments he made on Tuesday that he expects most businesses to reopen after the statewide stay-at-home order expires May 3rd.  Tuesday he told reporters there were still discussions about when businesses such as casinos could open and when restrictions could be lifted on nursing homes.

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