With a special legislative session set to start next week and with two Missouri House of Representatives employees announced last week to have COVID-19, people who work at the state Capitol are being offered testing for the virus.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is offering testing 8 a.m.-noon July 22-23 and 27-28 in the Capitol basement parking garage to employees working in the Capitol.
The information was shared with members of the Capitol press corps by the Associated Press, which received the information from the Office of Administration's Facilities Management, Design & Construction office — though the link to register for testing is publicly accessible at redcap.link/capitol_staff.
The testing will be free, and participation is voluntary, according to OA's information.
Notification of the test result should be given within 2-3 days, according to DHSS.
People with questions about the event or needing assistance with registration can contact the Missouri Novel Coronavirus Information Hotline at 877-435-8411.
A special legislative session called by Gov. Mike Parson last week for state lawmakers to address a surge in violent crime in Missouri is set to begin at noon July 27.
House members and staff were also urged to take precautions last week when it was announced two House employees had tested positive for COVID-19 and were self-quarantining at home.
Those who had come into direct contact with the two employees had also been contacted and were quarantining at home, according to an announcement from Chief Clerk of the House Dana Miller.
The email advised people currently working in the Capitol to continue practicing social distancing and wear a face mask in public areas or when interacting with people in the building.
All House members and staff who think they may have been exposed were encouraged to be tested: "You may do so by contacting your primary care physician for instructions, or contact Anthem Member Services directly at 844-516-0248. State employees also have access to the Strive for Wellness Health Center in the Truman State Office Building. To schedule an appointment, employees may call 573-526-3175," according to Miller's email.
It was not yet immediately clear Monday on what lawmakers' specific plans are for returning to the Capitol safely for special session.
Missouri Senate Democratic leader Sen. John Rizzo, of Independence, had called for anyone working within the Capitol in conjunction with a special session to be provided COVID-19 testing by DHSS.
Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, said last week that meetings about safety procedures and processes for special session had begun.
When it comes to singular locations — as opposed to wider testing within a community — much of the state's COVID-19 testing strategies so far have revolved around places including meat processing plants, nursing homes and prisons, where people enter and are present for shifts of several hours at a time or live full-time.
On whether the state was prepared to test at a place such as the Capitol during a special session, where people may enter and exit more frequently, DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said last week the department had been looking at what's been done in other states and had spoken with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Our strategy in all of these (places), always is on the front end to prevent (infections) — as much as we can — whether that's by screening or asking questions, but it always comes back on the other end to box-in, to have the ability to very quickly identify, whether it's at the Legislature, or the State Fair, or wherever, to identify a case and very quickly box it in," Williams said.