After concerns were raised over safety during the special session on violent crime, lawmakers and others working in the Missouri Capitol will be eligible for COVID-19 testing courtesy of the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).
DHSS said testing will be available by appointment on July 27-28, with additional dates possible as scheduling around the special session continues. Appointments will be available from 8 a.m. to noon. Testing will be held in room 14B of the Capitol.
Testing is voluntary for Capitol workers. DHSS said the test will take five minutes, and the department will notify individuals of their results within two to three days. Only aggregate data will be shared with the federal database, according to DHSS.
The testing will be funded by money from the CARES Act, DHSS said.
“Members of the General Assembly have expressed an interest in voluntary testing availability during the upcoming special session,” DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said. “After seeing the experience [other] state legislatures had recently, we felt this was a reasonable request. This opportunity is available because of the governor’s testing initiative which has significantly expanded testing capacity throughout the state, in regards to both volume and accessibility.”
“I think that’s fine, anything to make it safe,” Parson previously said. “It’ll be a safe place to do testing, so we’re fine with that.”
Ahead of the official announcement regarding special session, Democratic Senate Leader John Rizzo asked the state to provide testing to employees working in the Capitol while back in Jefferson City. Parson said he was open to the idea at last Wednesday’s press conference.
“Legislators traveling to and from their districts to the Capitol could spread COVID-19 from one community to another,” Rizzo told The Missouri Times. “In Mississippi, 26 lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 after being in their statehouse. I’m glad the Missouri Department of Health granted my request for testing in our Capitol before and during the upcoming special session.”
Rizzo said the next step is putting a plan in place for those who test positive in the building.
“I will be working with leaders in both Chambers to make sure that if a positive test occurs within the building, people are notified and the proper steps are taken to safeguard workers and the public,” Rizzo said.
During the regular session, one House member tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized. Two House staffers were also recently confirmed to have tested positive for the virus. Both are currently self-quarantining.
Anyone interested in receiving a test can pre-register here. A confirmation email that includes a contact information form will be sent to staff members who register.
For additional help with registration, call 877-435-8411.
Staff who become symptomatic or have come in contact with the virus can call 919-413-7791 for rapid off-site testing options.
The special session on violent crime will begin July 27.