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Posted on: March 23, 2020

Health Department announces 17 cases of COVID-19

Illness believed to be circulating in the community, called "community spread"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 As of 10 a.m. today, there are 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Greene County.

The 10th case, originally reported on Saturday, is believed to be a contact of a suspected positive case, with test results pending on that contact.

Two cases are a couple who had previous contact with a positive case.

One case is travel-related to an impacted area.

Four cases are patients from an assisted living center system here-Morningside of Springfield East. 

It is the belief of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department that this represents community spread of COVID-19 within our community. Community spread represents cases that cannot be directly tied back to a previous case or travel. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is assisting the Springfield-Greene County Health Department with the epidemiological investigation of this residential care facility.

Citizens who make their home in residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, as well as those who receive their daily care in adult day care centers are particularly vulnerable to this virus.

DHSS officials communicated earlier this month with administrators of long-term care facilities in Missouri to recommend restrictions on communal dining and group activities and emphasize the high-risk nature of this group. These recommendations include but are not limited to the following:

  • Facilities should restrict visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations, such as an end-of-life situation. In those cases, visitors will be limited to a specific room only. Facilities are expected to notify potential visitors to defer visitation until further notice.
  • For individuals that enter in compassionate situations (e.g., end-of-life care), facilities should require visitors to perform hand hygiene and use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as face masks. Decisions about visitation during an end-of-life situation should be made on a case by case basis, which should include careful screening of the visitor (including clergy, bereavement counselors, etc.) for fever or respiratory symptoms. Those with symptoms of a respiratory infection (fever, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat) should not be permitted to enter the facility at any time (even in end-of-life situations). Those visitors that are permitted, must wear a face mask while in the building and restrict their visit to the resident’s room or other location designated by the facility. They should also be reminded to frequently perform hand hygiene.

"Since our initial preparations began in January, we have highlighted the risk for certain groups such as the elderly and those in long-term care facilities and subsequently instructed facilities to impose restrictions on visitation," said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. "We have been emphasizing the importance of infection control plans for these facilities, and we are actively working on this particular situation with our colleagues in Springfield."

DHSS and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department together have instituted an action plan to mitigate any progression of the virus. Personal protective equipment is being delivered to the facility to protect workers involved in this situation. Over the weekend, testing was performed by the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory in order to detect these positive cases.

"This is not a surprising development, but one we are sad to see nonetheless," said SGCHD Director of Health Clay Goddard. "We take each new person falling ill personally. Our department, and our broader community, are resolved in fighting this illness."

To protect the patients’ right to privacy, identifying information will not be provided.  As part of the regular practice of disease investigation, the Health Department will notify people who have had contact with these patients. 

For more information about COVID-19, visit our website at health.springfieldmo.gov/coronavirus, email coronavirus@springfieldmo.gov, or call 417-874-1211.

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For media requests, contact Kathryn Wall, Public Health Information Administrator, Springfield-Greene County Health Department by phone at 417-874-1205 or email at kwall@springfieldmo.gov.



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