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St. Charles offers free COVID-19 testing through May 30

The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services [DHSS] and Missouri National Guard will perform drive-through testing for COVID-19 from 7 a.m-7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, May 29-30, at the St. Charles County Youth Activity Park, 7801 Hwy. N in Dardenne Prairie. The tests are open to all residents of Missouri who register online; they do not have to have COVID-19 symptoms to be eligible for the test.

Online registration is required through DHSS at health.mo.gov/communitytest or by calling the state hotline at (877) 435-8411. Registrants will be given a 15-minute appointment block. Upon arrival at the drive-through testing site, they will be asked questions, including about symptoms they may or may not have. Members of the National Guard will collect the nasopharyngeal specimen, which will be sent to a Quest Diagnostics lab for processing. Patients will be notified of their results by the Department of Health and Senior Services within 7 days.

“We are grateful to the state for making this opportunity possible,” St. Charles County Department of Public Health Director Demetrius Cianci-Chapman said. “Testing is extremely important in this pandemic and kits have been difficult to get. The more testing that is done – on symptomatic as well as asymptomatic residents – the more we will continue to learn about how this disease spreads and how prevalent it is in our communities.”

The nasopharyngeal swab test [Source: Adobe Stock]

About the test

This is a voluntary program. Any Missouri resident can get tested for COVID-19 during upcoming testing days throughout the state, whether experiencing symptoms or not. You do not need to be a resident of St. Charles County to participate.

The testing is operated by DHSS and the Missouri National Guard in coordination with local public health agencies.

According to Gov. Mike Parson, the goal of community sampling is to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 in a given area, so officials can gauge how to respond to the virus. Prevalence refers to the number of cases that are present in a community at a given date and time. For example, if there is a low prevalence of the virus in an area, residents can begin to re-engage safely and start to return to normalcy. But if there is a high prevalence, proactive steps will have to be taken to keep the virus from spreading throughout the community.

The tests at this event are free to the public. Funding is made possible by the CARES Act.

The test will determine whether you are positive or negative for active COVID-19. It is not an antibody test, so it won’t tell you if you’ve already recovered from COVID-19.

A health professional wearing full personal protection equipment, or PPE, will come to the car window to administer the test. COVID-19 testing uses the same test procedure as the flu, the nasopharyngeal swab. According to UC Davis Health, the nasal swab is 6 inches long and is inserted into the nose to reach the cavity between the nose and mouth. It is held in this position for 15 seconds and rotated several times. The swabbing is repeated on both sides of the nose

Those who receive a positive test should stay home, isolate themselves and call their provider if any concerns arise.

This article was produced, in part, by the Missouri Information Corps and Colleen Wouters. The Missouri Information Corps is a project of the Missouri School of Journalism.

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