Missouri health director testifies before new coronavirus committee

(Missourinet) Missouri’s health director will testify Monday in Jefferson City before a newly-created state House committee related to the new coronavirus. House Speaker Elijah Haahr announced the formation of the committee Thursday, saying state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams has briefed his office on the state’s response plan to protect Missourians’ health. Speaker Haahr says that the more information Missourians have, the better equipped the state will be to mitigate the virus’ spread.

Williams said in an agency statement, “Prior to the national health emergency being declared on January 31, our incident management team from DHSS had already begun daily meetings (on Jan. 27) as part of our normal preparedness and response duties. Part of our responsibilities also includes being an effective liaison to local public health departments who were briefed last week in Jefferson City with the latest information from federal partners.”

This week, Williams traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with his counterparts from around the nation to discuss preparations across our country with the acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.”

“I am pleased that our efforts here in Missouri are strategically aligned with our federal and national partners.”

The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory has been approved by the CDC to begin providing testing. The test uses real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction to detect the virus which causes COVID-19, and it can provide same-day results.

“Our Missouri team has been working to educate and collaborate with a robust network of response organizations including the State Emergency Management Agency, all 16 State departments, the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory, clinicians, local public health departments, medical associations, hospital associations, airports, school nurses, student health departments at colleges, and others to provide timely and accurate information in preparation for the possibility of a future positive case,” Dr. Williams also said in the press statement.

Missouri DHSS has established a website at www.health.mo.gov/coronavirus to provide information and links to resources and education material on COVID-19.

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