As cases slowly rise, Springfield-Greene County Health Dept. offers free COVID-19 test kits at county libraries

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - New cases of COVID-19 are slowly on the rise again, and that’s why the Greene County Health Department is giving away free COVID testing kits available at local libraries while supplies last.

Each household is allotted four testing kits which come with a guide for 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 rear-view mirror, some people don’t have that choice.

Greene County is averaging a little over 60 new cases per day in the past week, almost double the total of two weeks ago. Some 21 people are hospitalized in Springfield, with two in critical condition.

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

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

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

The library packages are rapid antigen tests that supply results within 15 minutes. If you are not showing any symptoms, the antigen tests are not always entirely as accurate as PCR tests, where you have to send off for test results that may take days. But the health department feels strong enough about the antigen tests’ effectiveness to back its use.

“If they test positive, I would absolutely trust that positive result,” Mann said. “Then begin isolating at home and try to reduce spread in your household and those around you. If you test negative and you’re symptomatic, we recommend retaking the test 48 hours later to make sure, or you can always take a test with us by making an appointment.”

Community members are encouraged to report positive at-home test results using the Health Department COVID-19 Home Testing Survey. Doing so can help provide the community with an accurate snapshot of COVID-19 prevalence. For more COVID-19 testing information, visit COVIDTesting417.com.

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

“Our current seven-day average of 60 is a little bit up from last week (42), and that was up from the week before (33),” Mann pointed out. “But it’s currently nothing like we were seeing at the height of Omicron or Delta. And we’re just hoping that with the slight rise in cases, folks are taking prevention strategies to heart and having these kits on hand so they can test if they become symptomatic or going to be around a loved one who might be vulnerable.”

As for those who thought we might be able to avoid a surge until the weather got cold again?

“Delta was a surge that happened in the summertime, and Omicron was a surge that happened in the winter,” Mann answered. “So we have seen that it can surge regardless of the season.”

And you also never know who will get it. So Connie was appreciative that the free tests were available for her daughter.

“For her, it’s important because she’s a nurse,” she said. “She had it once, my husband’s 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 health disparities in the community related to COVID-19 and beyond. The Health Department and community partners host free clinics each week around Greene County. Community members can find a clinic near them at vaccine417.com or call the COVID-19 Call Center at 417-874-1211.

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