Starting Monday, May 18, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will be recommending more testing in long-term care facilities, in an effort to increase COVID-19 testing within high-risk environments.
According to a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Senior Services, 163 long-term care facilities in the state that have had COVID-19 positive cases – either patients or staff or both. These facilities include skilled nursing, assisted living, intermediate care and other residential care facilities.
The breakdown of long-term care communities impacted is 119 intermediate care or skilled nursing facilities, and 44 residential or assisted living facilities.
Randall Williams, the Director of the Department, announced a new testing policy for these facilities during Gov. Mike Parson’s daily briefing on Monday.
“We are issuing an order today that in any long-term care facility that has one patient who’s positive or one staff member who’s positive, that we are recommending comprehensive testing. That you go in and check everybody,” Williams said. “A capability we didn’t have a month ago.”
Dr. Williams said this is part of the state’s goal of “kicking our testing into another gear.”
According to the Department, 72 of the 163 facilities have had no new positive COVID-19 diagnoses in the last 15 or more days.
They added 91 facilities have had new cases diagnosed within the last two weeks, but many of them – 41 – had already completed facility-wide testing. That leaves 50 long-term care facilities in the state with cases, but comprehensive COVID-19 testing not yet completed.
“We were able to move in quickly and test everyone in those facilities. We will be working with the 50 homes that have not completed facility-wide testing this week,” Parson said. “We are working on a prioritization of these homes to ensure that the facilities most in need can complete facility-wide testing.”
Dr. Williams added that increased and regular testing within long-term care facilities, as well as in other high-risk environments like jails, prisons or meat packing plants, will allow the state to monitor COVID-19 and see if “anything is brewing.”