Joplin Health Department gets COVID-19 testing kits

Kits being used after hospitals rule out other diseases

JOPLIN, Mo. – Sanitizing handles and high traffic areas several times a day.

“Door to door on bottom, door to door on top,” says Daniel Gurley with Souls Harbor.

Volunteers at Souls Harbor are doing several things to be proactive in preventing COVID-19, like cleaning, changing how they serve meals, wearing gloves, and watching for symptoms.

“One thing we’re not trying to do is over think it or get panicked. But we also realize that it’s still serious,” says Gurley.

And, they’re working with the Joplin Health Department to stay updated on the situation, including when they should have people with symptoms go to the doctor.

“We’re going along with whatever they recommend,” says Gurley.

The health department has gotten a handful of coronavirus testing kits from the state, but they can only be used in specific cases.

“Basically, a person has to have had recent travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, or within parts of Washington state,” says Ryan Talken, Joplin Health Department director. “Or had direct contact with a confirmed case elsewhere.”

Talken says the best thing for people to do is call a doctor if they are having symptoms and have traveled to high risk area, and ask if they should go to the doctor’s office for care.

Screening will be done, and then if they meet the criteria, the hospital will have to run other tests before a COVID-19 test is ordered from the health department.

“They would run a respiratory pannel, and also a flu test. And if both of those came back as negative, then at that time we would make the request up to the state department of health to see if one of those kits can then be released,” says Talken.

The kit is then sent to the state department of health for testing, a process that takes up to 48 hours for high priority cases.

Now that the health department has testing kits, Talken expects the number of confirmed cases to increase, but wants to remind people that there’s no need to panic.

“This isn’t a situation at this moment where everybody needs to panic, but it is definitely something that we ought to start to focus on.”

The health department has used one of the testing kits.

It came back negative for COVID-19.