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St. Louis County wants to greatly expand coronavirus testing

St. Louis County plans to expand its testing for the coronavirus to include residents who leave their homes and have frequent contact with others, even if they have no symptoms.

Until now, the county has focused its testing on people who have symptoms of COVID-19. But County Executive Sam Page said Wednesday the county has access to more tests, so the focus now is on containing the disease by trying to identify people who may be spreading it without knowing it, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The tests will be available starting Monday at the county’s Berkeley and Sunset Hills clinics. Appointments are required. The county can now test 150 asymptomatic people per day, and the test results should be back in 48 hours, he said.

“We’re especially interested in those who do not have symptoms, but should be tested because they have contact with others outside of their household, and may have the ability to transmit COVID-19 to others unknowingly,” he said. “It’s important to remember that even if you are not worried about COVID-19, you should be tested to protect other people.”

On Wednesday, state health officials reported the number of confirmed cases surged by 274 to 15,187. The department reported 848 deaths from COVID-19, up eight from Tuesday. The state said 72 of the new cases came from previous testing at Fort Leonard Wood.

It was the third time this month new cases have increased by more than 200. Gov. Mike Parson and health officials have attributed the increase in part to more access to testing.

The University of Missouri said Wednesday it would start on-campus classes on its four campuses on Aug. 24, after the faculty Senate last week rejected a plan to start earlier. System President Mun Choi said administrators will continue to monitor the coronavirus pandemic and will be ready to make such adjustments as returning to remote instruction if it becomes necessary.

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