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Coronavirus presumptive positive test at Clinton hospital; facility advised not to accept new patients

After a patient who had been treated at Golden Valley Memorial Hospital tested presumptive positive for coronavirus, the Clinton facility was placed on diversion and advised not to admit new patients, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) said early Saturday morning. 

Four patients have tested positive in Missouri for coronavirus so far; only one has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency Friday evening. 

Among the four patients is a Henry County resident who had been hospitalized at Golden Valley Memorial Hospital before being transferred to another facility on March 8. It was at this other facility where a specimen was collected and sent to the CDC, DHSS said. 

Additional information about the facility was not immediately available.

“We are working closely with our state partners as well as our local hospital to quickly identify and respond to anyone who may need to self-isolate due to close contact with the individual,” Peggy Bowles, administrator of the Henry County Health Center, said in a statement. “It is vital that we act quickly with protective measures.” 

“We are committed to assisting our local partners in Henry County through this process,” DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said. “It is very important that anyone identified as a close contact of this patient follow necessary precautions to limit any potential spread of infection.”

The lone CDC-confirmed case of coronavirus is a woman in her 20s in the St. Louis area who had been studying in Italy. One of the presumptive positive cases is another young individual in Springfield who had been overseas

In announcing the state of emergency, Parson said Missouri is expanding its ability to test for coronavirus through partnerships with the University of Missouri and Washington University. The state lab is expected to receive additional testing resources from the CDC as well. 

The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” while the disease is called “coronavirus disease 2019,” or “COVID-19.” It can cause severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the CDC has warned. 

There have been more than 1,600 confirmed cases in the U.S., and 41 deaths, according to the CDC. Aside from the four people who have tested positive in Missouri, 90 people have tested negatively, Parson said. 

The Missouri Capitol has effectively shuttered a week before a scheduled legislative spring break. The Senate canceled session for the upcoming week, while the House will have a technical session Monday and Tuesday as the Budget Committee continues to work. Some public areas in the House have been closed. 

DHSS has opened a public hotline that will be operated by medical professionals around the clock seven days a week. The hotline number is 877-435-8411. A previous glitch that did not allow phones with out-of-state area codes access the hotline has been fixed, officials said. 

President Donald Trump also declared a national emergency as the global pandemic grows.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.