As cases slowly increase, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department offers free COVID-19 test kits at county libraries

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – New cases of COVID-19 are slowly increasing again, which is why the Greene County Health Department is distributing free COVID testing kits available at local libraries while supplies last.

Each family is assigned four test kits that come with a guide on what to do if you test positive for COVID-19. The kits are free to the public and 2,500 will be distributed.

While most of the world now considers COVID-19 a nuisance in the rearview mirror, some people don’t have that choice.

Greene County has recorded an average of just over 60 new cases per day in the past week, nearly double the total two weeks ago. About 21 people are hospitalized in Springfield, including two in critical condition.

“We know COVID fatigue exists and we know the community is tired,” said Whitney Mann, Greene County Health Information Officer. “But we encourage everyone to keep in mind that when there is an increase in cases, a community-wide effort is needed to reduce the spread.”

One of those ways to reduce the spread is to get tested if you have COVID symptoms, and on Tuesday Connie Scott came from Rogersville to The Library Center in South Campbell to collect some free tests.

“My daughter has some colleagues who tested positive and wanted to be proactive and test when she got home from work today,” explained Scott.

Library packages are rapid antigen tests that provide results within 15 minutes. If you don’t show any symptoms, antigen tests aren’t always quite as accurate as PCR tests, where you have to submit test results which could take days. But the health department feels strong enough about the effectiveness of antigen tests to support their use.

“If they test positive, I would absolutely trust that positive result,” Mann said. “So start isolating yourself at home and try to reduce the spread in your family and the people around you. If the test is negative and you are symptomatic, we recommend that you repeat the test 48 hours later to be sure, or you can always take a test with us by making an appointment.

Community members are encouraged to report positive home test results using the Department of Health’s COVID-19 home test survey. This can help provide the community with an accurate snapshot of the prevalence of COVID-19. For more information on COVID-19 testing, visit COVIDTesting417.com.

While St. Louis has seen a surge that has placed it on the CDC’s “high risk” level, Springfield is in the “low risk” category, even as the seven-day average has risen.

“Our current seven-day average of 60 is slightly higher than last week (42) and the week before (33),” Mann stressed. “But currently it’s nothing like we were seeing at Omicron or Delta. And let’s just hope that with the slight increase in cases, people are taking prevention strategies to heart and have these kits on hand so they can test if they become symptomatic or are staying with a loved one who may be vulnerable.

As for those who thought we could avoid a surge until the weather returned cold?

“Delta was a wave that happened in the summer and Omicron was a wave that happened in the winter,” Mann replied. “So we have seen that it can increase regardless of the season.”

And you never know who will get it. So Connie appreciated that free tests were available for her daughter.

“For her, it’s important because she’s a nurse,” he said. “She has had it once, my husband has had it twice and I have never had it.”

The kits are made possible through a partnership with the Library and a Springfield-Greene County Health initiative to combat community health disparities related to COVID-19 and beyond. The Department of Health and community partners host free clinics every week in Greene County. Community members can find a clinic near them at vaccini417.com or call the COVID-19 Call Center at 417-874-1211.

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