The experience of two employees of Community Action Partnership of Greater St. Joseph represents the issues many Northwest Missourians face in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both employees had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but were denied the test by government rules. One was even recommended for a test by their health-care provider but still couldn’t get one, a microcosm of a larger experience. Both remain in self-isolation.
Faced with an unknown, Whitney Lanning, the executive director of CAPSTJOE, made the decision to close all of the agency’s offices and have employees work remotely. It’s a decision other businesses have taken, some directed by local governments via “shelter in place” orders.
“It’s just hard,” Lanning said. “I think at some point especially with it being allergy season, you know, we’re all gonna have something that makes us think ‘Oh, no, is this it?’”
As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Northwest Missouri had just a handful of positive cases in the area. Mosaic Life Care, the largest hospital in the region, had sent just 108 test kits out for final analysis, none of them yet positive.
Since the pandemic began, statewide numbers have steadily increased. As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the state had confirmed 502 positive cases, a 146-case increase from the previous day.
Lanning said her employees, thankfully, are doing fairly well. No deaths have been reported in Northwest Missouri while eight have been confirmed across the state, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
“One was really after about five days still feeling the exact same. The other staff person was still had some symptoms, a cough and fever, but the other symptoms that they were having had kind of dissipated,” she said. “So they were both just happy that they hadn’t gotten worse and they’re in decent spirits.”
Ten days ago, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in a news conference in St. Joseph that he hoped to have 10,000 test kits available in Missouri “within a couple weeks.”
Lanning said her employees couldn’t get a COVID-19 test around the time Parson held that news conference because they hadn’t traveled recently or had a known contact with someone with COVID-19.
Testing requirements can very between providers and various oversight agencies, Lanning said she didn’t know which medical provider each of the employees used.
Mosaic has said it can test patients through the state of Missouri’s protocol, which currently involves a series of screening questions including travel history, or send some tests to private labs which have looser restriction.
DHSS Director Doctor Randall Williams told News-Press NOW on March 20 that he hoped the state would be able to stop asking about travel history “in 10 to 14 days.”
“One was medically recommended to quarantine for 14 days like their health professional said you need to go quarantine and the other one just felt like that was pretty obvious and so she took that second step,” Lanning said about her employees.
CAPSTJOE remains open to help patrons while employees work remotely. You can contact the agency at 816-233-8281.