JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With a legislative special session on the horizon, Senate Democratic Leader John Rizzo requested the Department of Health provide COVID-19 testing to those working in the Capitol.
More than 29,000 Missourians have tested positive for coronavirus as of Tuesday, including 126 in Cole County where Jefferson City is located. In his letter to Health Director Randall Williams, Rizzo said the number of cases in the county had “increased significantly,” especially among people between 20 and 39 years old.
“The community testing events that DHSS has put on with the Missouri National Guard have been very successful, and I want to commend you and your staff for facilitating these important events. A similar testing event in the Capitol can help to ensure the health and safety of people within the building, while also demonstrating to state leaders the importance of COVID-19 testing,” Rizzo said.
“As you are aware, the Missouri General Assembly has authorized significant amounts of federal money to provide COVID-19 testing, and a Capitol testing event would be well within the authority and responsibility of your department.”
Rizzo also offered for his office to provide support for testing if able.
In officially announcing the special session Wednesday afternoon, Parson seemed open to Rizzo’s idea for testing.
“I think that’s fine, anything to make it safe,” Parson said in response to a question from The Missouri Times. “It’ll be a safe place to do testing, so we’re fine with that.”
Earlier this week, Parson signed HB 1682 into law, an omnibus health care bill that included a provision making COVID-19 tests free for those who a health care provider recommends one. That portion of the bill contained an emergency clause, meaning it went into effect upon Parson’s signature.
The inclusion of the provision in the House bill was pushed for by Rizzo during the regular session.
“Testing is the cornerstone of safely reopening our economy, and no Missourian should be denied a COVID-19 test simply because they can’t afford it,” Rizzo said at the time. “Missourians without health insurance, or those who have fallen into the coverage gap, should not be forced to pay out of pocket for their COVID-19 test.”
Two House staffers have recently tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email that went out to employees and members Wednesday.
— Kaitlyn Schallhorn (@K_Schallhorn) July 15, 2020
A Department of Health and Senior Services spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This story has been updated.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn was the editor in chief of The Missouri Times from 2020-2022. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.