A free community COVID-19 testing event will be held July 7-9 in Cole County.
Testing will be done from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. each day at the former Cole County Health Department, 1616 Industrial Drive in Jefferson City. The site will be staffed by the Missouri National Guard.
Similar free testing events were held this past weekend in Moniteau and Osage counties.
Testing at these community events is free to any Missouri resident of any county — not just the county where the event takes place — and people do not need to have symptoms of COVID-19 to take part.
Offering the nasal swab testing to anyone, with or without symptoms, is intended to help determine how prevalent COVID-19 is in a region — and is also a way to offer people some peace of mind according to state health officials.
Community testing is being used to help determine the number of people who have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections — people who don't feel sick or have not yet gotten sick but are nonetheless carrying and potentially unknowingly spreading the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Registration for a community testing event includes providing one's date of birth, age, address, personal contact information and answers to questions about exposure to COVID-19 in the past two weeks.
Test results are made available by phone and have also been available online or via an app through Quest Diagnostics.
"If you test positive, your local health department will call you to see if there are others around you who might need to be tested and provide you with information about how to protect yourself and others," according to a post-test email from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
"Sometimes, the test result can be negative even if you are infected. Usually this happens when the test is done too early to be able to find the virus in a test sample, so it is important to watch for symptoms even if you test negative," DHSS noted.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache or sore throat.
The community testing sites are operated by DHSS and the Missouri National Guard in coordination with local health departments, and the testing is being paid for with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability Act funding.
People are asked to wear masks in their vehicles at the test sites until asked to take them off for the test.
Registration is available at health.mo.gov/communitytest. Individuals who cannot register online may call the COVID-19 Hotline at 877-435-8411 for assistance.
As of Monday, Cole County had four active cases of COVID-19, county Health Department Director Kristi Campbell said. Since March, Cole County has reported 61 total positive COVID-19 cases, with 55 patients who have recovered and one who died.
"We had been at one active case for almost two weeks, but at the end of last week we got four more new cases," Campbell said. "Two of the cases were in the same household, and they contracted the virus because of where they had traveled. One new case contracted the virus through travel and contact with a person who had tested positive for the virus. The fourth new case, we're not sure how they contracted it."
"We expected to see some more cases because more testing is being done," Campbell continued. "All those who have tested positive are self-quarantining in their homes."
The majority of Cole County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 are between the ages of 40-59, with women having more positive tests than men, according to county Health Department data.
News Tribune reporter Phillip Sitter contributed to this article.