Missouri National Guard rolls into Barry County for COVID-19 testing

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 5:32 PM CDT
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The Missouri National Guard has been making its rounds throughout the state, on Monday a unit stopped in Cassville to provide free COVID-19 testing to people in Barry County and around the area.

The unit had a large testing site located at Cassville High School, where people could drive up and get tested without having to step out of their cars.

The support from the state national guard is a part of Missouri's "boxed in testing" strategy, a term for targeting areas with jumps in cases.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services decides where to send these units.

"We came from Joplin and Neosho earlier this week so it is just depending on the need and where the outbreaks are occurring," said Major Christie Miller.

Miller said she and her team tested around 300 people in Cassville. In some cases she said her team has tested 700 people in a day, depending on the size of the county.

Miller said Cassville is a relatively small community, so 300 people in a day is actually a fairly large number for the area. She said the fact tests are free tends to draw a large crowd of people.

"This is probably the first time these people have had the opportunity to get tested," she said. "And again it provides that data that shows just how big the spread of COVID-19 is in Missouri."

Missouri Director of Health Randall Williams said this "boxed in testing" strategy is helping the state conduct more tests, track cases and ultimately prevent more people from dying of the virus.

"It allows a robust ability to do lots and lots of tests," he said. "We can now do 12,000 tests in Missouri, if not more."

A big part of the national guard's help is tracking the number of cases.

"We're trying to provide the Governor with usable data for reopening the country or the state," Miller said. "So we're helping him out by providing as much free Covid testing as possible."

Miller and her unit ran the site in Cassville from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday and then immediately headed for their next stop in Branson on Tuesday. That same unit will hit Jefferson City after July 4.

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