Reeves expands COVID-19 testing for teachers, telehealth for schools

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, at his news conference Monday, Aug. 17, announced expanded COVID-19 testing for teachers and telehealth coverage to schools.  

The announcements came as many Mississippi public school districts opened their classroom doors to students for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Reeves said the expansion of COVID-19 testing is for all Mississippi teachers, even those without symptoms.

He has also expanded telehealth coverage through the Mississippi Division of Medicaid to include schools.  

“We are expanding school-based emergency telehealth coverage throughout the state of Mississippi,” Reeves said. “This will allow schools, even those without school nurses or school-based clinics, to access telehealth services.”

The expansion of testing for teachers will enable them to get tested at any time, whether they have symptoms or have come in close contact with someone who has the virus. 

“We also know that testing can allow us to prevent the spread of the virus by immediately identifying and isolating known cases,” Reeves said. “As teachers return to the classroom, we want to make it simple for them to get access to testing.”

Teachers have three options for testing: the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) site in Jackson at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, community sites across the state, or with rotating testing teams at their home county health department.  

Mississippi Division of Medicaid Executive Director Drew Snyder announced the expansion of telehealth services to schools with the governor during Reeves’ daily press briefing in Jackson.  

The move is meant to boost efforts to protect students and enable those schools without school nurses or school-based clinics to access telehealth services.  

“Extending telehealth coverage has been a key part of ensuring access to care during this public health emergency,” said Snyder. “As children return to the classroom, increasing access in school settings is more important now than ever.”

Schools will be approved as temporary telehealth originating site provides on the condition that services are facilitated by a telepresenter acting within their scope of practice and license and/or certification.

On Monday, Aug. 17, MSDH reported 276 additional positive cases of the coronavirus for a total of 72,412. There were 11 new death reports on Monday, however, two of that number actually dated back to July 26-27, and reported by death certificates.  

Hinds County has the most number of positive case reports at 5,917, followed by DeSoto County with 3,913.  

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