At least 27 long-term care facilities in Missouri have at least one resident or employee who has tested positive for the coronavirus, but getting more information is a challenge.
Department of Health and Senior Services spokeswoman Lisa Cox said Thursday that Missouri health officials won’t identify the facilities with infections unless those facilities, or local health officials, publicize the information first, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Cox said that naming them would violate state statutes forbidding health officials from identifying patients personally. She didn’t immediately respond to a Friday email from the Associated Press asking how naming facilities with positive cases would identify patients.
Local health officials, though, have chosen to confirm that five residents of a Springfield assisted living facility and three residents at a St. Charles nursing home have died. Six other nursing homes, senior-living and long-term care facilities in the St. Louis area have reported residents or staff testing positive for COVID-19, which is particularly dangerous to older adults.
Cox said county officials aren’t bound by the same statute as the state health department.
Clay Goddard, who leads the health department in the Springfield area, said he viewed it “as a duty to warn,” adding that in “a global pandemic more information is often times better.”
As of Thursday, Missouri had 1,831 cases, which was 16% more than on Wednesday. Missouri is among a dozen or so states that don’t have a statewide stay-at-home order, even though most of the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, and many other counties around the state, have issued their own.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson has asked the public to avoid going out unnecessarily and has stressed that it’s up to individuals to act responsibly. But he has cited the low number of coronavirus cases in many counties, especially rural areas, as the reason for declining to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. He did prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people.