Jackson County has reported COVID-19 outbreaks at two nursing homes in Eastern Jackson County.
"There’s two nursing home outbreaks in Eastern Jackson County – one in Blue Springs and one in Oak Grove," County Health Director Bridgette Shaffer told county legislators Monday.
Parkway Senior Living in Blue Springs had 19 cases, with three deaths, as of Monday, and Oak Grove Nursing and Rehab had 15 cases, with three deaths.
She said the county got 75 test kits to those facilities over the weekend and will provide more as needed.
"We work with them very closely to ensure that they’re being aggressive in their mitigation and control," she said.
Health officials on Monday outlined progress on COVID-19 but also underlined that much remains to be done – and that a continued increase in cases is likely.
"We believe that you will see increased cases going into the summer – I think just as we start to relax social distancing, whether we officially do it or just people are doing that – I think you’ll see increased cases in the summer," Truman Medical Centers President and CEO Charlie Shields told legislators.
Then the fall – with flu season, plus people gathering for usual fall activities – could well bring another surge in COVID-19 cases and in hospital usage, he said.
"Obviously we need to continue to ramp up testing," Shields said. "We need to get the point-of-care devices which can be widely distributed and you can have results in 15 minutes on that."
Shaffer said the public health goal is to test 220,000 people in the metro – about one-tenth of the population – in next three months. She said the state of Missouri has not told the county how many people in Jackson County have been tested.
"That is something that we have requested from the state, and we hope to have that data soon, and so we can get a better picture of how many have already been tested to see what we need to be doing and where we need to focus in the future," she said.
Legislator Jalen Anderson, D-Blue Springs, expressed frustration over that.
"I find it fascinating that the state won’t share information with the Health Department, but I don’t expect much more from Jeff City right now," he said.
Shields said getting personal protective equipment remains a challenge but that it’s getting better. He said TMC has enough ventilators at the moment but would buy more if they were available, just to be safe.
Two months ago, he said, statistical models suggested COVID-19 cases were likely to exceed hospital capacity across Missouri, but stay-at-home orders and social distancing have helped stretch out the rise in cases over time. Hospitals, which are beginning a return to elective surgery, do not now seem likely to be overwhelmed even as COVID cases keep rising.
"The models do not show that right now, and that’s comforting," he said.
TMC could slow down elective surgery and other functions if there was a significant surge, he said. The hospital will also closely watch PPE supplies, another limiting factor.
The shift in operations already has created a significant financial strain for TMC.
"All safety-net hospitals across the country are facing the same challenges," he said.