Cases In Springfield Assisted Living Facility Jump To 8, With 4 Deaths
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 inside a Springfield assisted living facility has jumped to eight, a Springfield-Greene County Health Department official said Friday.
Among those cases is a resident who died before the outbreak was discovered in the facility; she was not tested, but her case is considered an epidemiologically-linked case, according to the health department's assistant director, Katie Towns.
In the field of public health, “epi-linked” cases, as they are known, are not confirmed through a lab, but rather through a connection to another lab-confirmed case and symptoms determined to be evidence of the disease.
“We currently have eight cases. Seven of those are confirmed; one is an epi-linked case. And there are four deaths,” she said when asked specifically about numbers in the assisted living facility, Morningside of Springfield East.
The other residents in the facility are not being tested at this time unless they develop symptoms—a state protocol that's due to a shortage of tests available, Dean Linneman of Missouri’s Division of Regulation and Licensure told KSMU this week. Currently, state protocol is to only test those residents with symptoms, officials say. It was unclear from DHSS whether residents who are found to have been in close contact with the confirmed cases would also be tested. See our reporting on that by clicking here.
On Thursday, KSMU asked Missouri Governor Mike Parson if he would consider changing state protocol to give priority testing to all seniors in a long-term care facility where an outbreak of COVID-19 has been confirmed, rather than only testing those with symptoms.
“I would be willing to change that if it was possible to do. But I know every day there’s a shortage of the test kits that are out there. And we have to allocate which ones we think are a priority for our state. As much as I would like to test everyone today who would like to be tested, the reality is: we just don’t have the tests. They don’t have it nationally,” Parson said during a press conference through Facebook Live.
The Morningside resident who died before others were tested was a woman in her 90s, Towns said.
“She passed away before any residents were even tested at Morningside. We are counting this as our fourth COVID-19 death,” Towns said.
She added that she was not certain of the date of the woman’s death.
Towns said there are a total of 41 confirmed cases in Greene County.
In a press release, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department confirmed that “testing remains limited,” and indicated that one reason it is now including “epi-linked” cases is linked to that scarcity of tests.
Including "epi-linked" cases “allows the community to have a clearer understanding of case counts without taking up testing capacity," according to the release.