State grant helps prepare for virus outbreak

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State grant helps prepare for virus outbreak

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 18:01
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JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri received $9.9 million in federal aid to tackle the coronavirus crisis, mostly to test and treat patients.

The director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Randall Williams, told legislators the department is developing spending guidelines for the grant.

“It was so important that most of that money comes to local government and health officials,” Williams told the Joint Committee on Disaster Preparedness and Awareness.

Jackie Gatz, representing the Missouri Hospital Association, said her organization started getting equipment Feb. 3 to protect front-line providers. Gatz said 75% of Missouri hospitals have responded “adequate” in terms of supply quantity.

Testing is open to all those over age 65 or with a chronic condition and who meet the symptoms of 100.4 degree fever and hacking cough, live in the geographical area of an outbreak or have had known contact with a carrier. The expected cost of a test is $120.

Williams said 81% of those who test positive will have mild symptoms, 14% need hospitalization, 4% need a ventilator and 2% will die.

Former Sen. Rob Schaaf, a physician, said a virus outbreak in prisons is inevitable. He also said the rate of patients diagnosed with the disease doubles every four to six days, so the legislature should “drop everything else and just focus on coronavirus.”

Because of the growing spread of the virus, lawmakers have decided to ask the public not to go to Capitol functions.