Residents and staff in all of Missouri’s veterans homes will be tested for COVID-19, Gov. Mike Parson announced Wednesday.
The comprehensive testing is part of a strategy state officials announced last week called sentinel testing. By going into state-owned facilities and testing every patient and employee, Parson said the goal is to isolate the virus before it spreads.
Homes located in St. Louis and Cameron began testing this week, said Ryon Richmond, the interim executive director of the Missouri Veterans Commission. Testing will be conducted in Mexico and Cape Girardeau facilities next week, and in the remaining four facilities the following weeks.
Richmond said all veterans homes began restricting access to visitors, vendors and volunteers in its seven locations when the first case of coronavirus was announced March 7. Thus far, there has been only one publicly announced case of COVID-19 in all seven of the commission’s facilities.
“Our mission at the Missouri Veterans Commission is caring for some of our nation’s heroes,” said Richmond. “Our commitment to these heroes is to provide a high quality of care with compassion and dignity that they and their families deserve.”
Officials continue working toward more comprehensive COVID-19 testing in state-owned facilities and other long-term care facilities. Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, announced Wednesday about half of the 51 nursing homes had completed facility-wide testing.
Ten more nursing homes, however, have reported at least one staff member or resident has tested positive for the virus in their facility, said Williams. They will also complete comprehensive COVID-19 testing.
Williams could not specify why there has been an increase but speculated that it was part of community transmission.
There have been 12,492 cases of COVID-19 in Missouri as of Wednesday, including 696 deaths. In Boone County, there have been 130 cases, including 24 active cases, and one death.