State health director does not recommend pulling family members out of facilities
Nearly 50 state-licensed long-term care facilities in Missouri are grappling with at least one positive case of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS).
But it’s not clear just how many people residing in those facilities have been affected by the virus as Missouri does not track that information, a DHSS spokesperson told The Missouri Times.
Concern for those in nursing or assisted living facilities has mounted as the global pandemic persists. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned older adults are more susceptible to developing complications from COVID-19, and experts caution long-term care facilities are particularly at risk.
As of Thursday morning, at least 3,539 Missourians have tested positive for coronavirus, and 77 people have died. The majority of deaths have occurred among people who are at least 60 years old.
While the state doesn’t track the number of people in nursing or assisted living facilities who have been affected, many local health departments do.
Frontier Health & Rehabilitation is home to 42 residents who have tested positive for coronavirus and five people have died, the St. Charles County Department of Public Health said Wednesday. Additionally, 10 staff members have contracted the virus.
In Washington, two residents of Grandview Healthcare Center have died, Franklin County Commissioner Tim Brinker confirmed Thursday morning. At Morningside of Springfield East, in Greene County, eight people have tested positive and five have died. An employee has also contracted the virus.
Meanwhile, in California, Los Angeles County public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer suggested people — particularly those working from home during the pandemic — remove family members who are relatively independent from long-term care facilities.
However, that is not an option floated by Missouri’s health director.
“As long as those long-term care facilities are practicing not having visitation [and] good social distancing,” DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said he would not recommend taking a family member out.
“We very much appreciate the efforts they’ve taken. We greatly appreciate the frontline workers in those long-term care facilities taking care of patients just like our other first responders or frontline people,” Williams said.
Missouri has been under a statewide stay at home order since Monday. Prior, Gov. Mike Parson had placed the state under a social distancing mandate, which included a prohibition on anyone not providing critical assistance from visiting nursing or assisted living homes, long-term care facilities, or retirement homes.
And even before the order, DHSS had instructed nursing facilities to limit or restrict visitations and provided guidance from the CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
There are about 1,165 long-term care facilities resulting in more than 81,100 beds in Missouri. Of these, 504 are skilled nursing facilities, 24 immediate care, 369 residential care, and 268 assisted living.
A multi-billion-dollar supplemental budget approved by the General Assembly this week included up to $90 million for use by nursing homes to help with infection control and other coronavirus-related expenses.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.