CLAYTON — A St. Louis woman has tested "presumptive positive" as the first case of COVID-19 in Missouri on Saturday.

At a news conference Saturday night, Gov. Mike Parson announced that the woman in her 20s was tested at Mercy Hospital St. Louis.

Indiana University confirmed Monday that a student from St. Louis "tested positive for coronavirus" after she returned home from a study abroad program in Italy. She was the second student from the university to contract the virus, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

She had returned from Italy with a fever and respiratory issues, the governor said. The Missouri State Public Health laboratory reported her case as a presumptive positive result for COVID-19.

The results are "highly likely" to be confirmed, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said during the news conference. Because it’s not an FDA-approved test, caution must be taken with language, he added.

Kansas confirmed its first case of coronavirus Saturday, according to the Kansas City Star. Gov. Laura Kelly said a Johnson County woman under 50 has contracted COVID-19.

Johnson County includes the Kansas City suburbs of Shawnee, Overland Park, Olathe and Lenexa.

“The public shouldn’t panic,” Kelly said in a news conference, emphasizing that the state remains at low risk for spread of the virus.

The COVID-19 test for the St. Louis woman has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A positive COVID-19 case takes on average five days to confirm, officials said Saturday.

The woman was released because she did not meet requirements to be admitted to the hospital and did not need intensive care, Page said.

She is “now in isolation at home with family members who have also been in isolation,” Parson added Saturday.

“We understand that there is serious concern about this virus and the potential escalation surrounding positive cases in our community,” Spring Schmidt, St. Louis County Department of Public Health co-director said.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has tested a total of 26 people for COVID-19. This includes the presumptive positive case in St. Louis. Three additional tests remain in progress.

Health officials in St. Louis and Kansas said that prevention is key.

“This coronavirus may be new, but the ways to prevent it are tried and true and well-established,” Page said, echoing Kelly’s statement that people should not panic.

There are constraints around testing for the virus, and the testing is reserved for symptomatic people, he said. He repeated that proper hand washing is the best prevention method.

Health officials at the conference directed people to the CDC’s website for more information about COVID-19.

  • Copy editor, reporter and info graphics. I am a senior studying news reporting and sociology. Previously, I've reported on public safety issues and city government. Reach me at sarahhaselhorst@mail.missouri.edu, or 573-340-5591.

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