Franklin County recorded another COVID-19 death as the overall case count has reached 1,682.
The death of a 79-year-old St. Clair man was reported Friday by the Franklin County Health Department (FCHD), marking the 29th person to die of COVID-19 complications since the first virus death was reported here April 3.
Also on Friday, coronavirus cases in long-term care facilities in the county jumped to 13, the highest number seen since July. The virus cases in long-term care facilities had been hovering between five and seven for weeks.
The county also reached a new two-day record of 42 cases reported on both Thursday and Friday.
The 10-day rolling total of new cases in the county is now 306 with an average of 32 new cases being reported each day for the past 14 days. The overall testing positivity rate is 10.7 percent.
Mercy Hospital officials reported that they are caring for 20 patients with COVID-19: 13 from Franklin County; three from Warren County; two from Gasconade County; and two from Crawford County.
The rise in long-term care cases comes just days after the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released guidance on reducing visitor restrictions at nursing facilities across the state.
The first COVID-19 cases reported in Franklin County came in late March at Union Care Center and Grandview Healthcare Center in Washington. The largest one-day total of new cases at a long-term care facility was 18 at Grandview on April 7.
The highest number of COVID-19 cases at county long-term care facilities was 23 on May 13.
The month of June began with eight cases in long-term care facilities and ended with 16. In July, cases hovered at 21 for most of the month then dropped to eight by the beginning of August.
August also saw the lowest number of long-term cases when numbers dropped to just two residents and hovered around five until the spike this week.
Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said he has been monitoring the rise in cases at long-term care facilities since they were hit so hard early on. “I am not aware of any major flare-ups at any one particular facility,” Brinker said. “It is definitely concerning.”
Since the end of March, more than 650 long-term care facilities in Missouri have reported at least one case among staff or residents, according to DHSS.
When cases began to appear in the facilities DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams quickly locked down residents and restricted visitors in efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
On Thursday, Williams and DHSS gave individual facilities the power to resume general visits either inside or outside the facilities.
“With increased resources and knowledge of the virus and its impacts, as well as the hard work of so many Missourians, we are thankful to reunite residents with their families,” Williams said. “We believe allowing contact with loved ones and residents of our long-term care facilities is important to overall health, especially after a prolonged separation.”
Facilities that have not had any cases of COVID-19 among staff or residents, or those that have not had a facility-acquired case in the past 14 days, are able to allow general indoor visits for residents who do not or are not suspected to have COVID-19 (or who have been released from isolation).
Outdoor visits may occur in any facility for residents who do not or are not suspected to have COVID-19 (or who have been released from isolation).
The guidelines dictate that five visitors may be designated for each resident, with two allowed to be present at a given time by appointment and with social distancing being practiced.
In addition to general visits, each resident may have one essential caregiver designated by the resident (or guardian or legal representative). Essential caregivers are able to provide health care services or assistance with daily activities to help maintain or improve the quality of care and life.
This may include assistance with bathing, dressing, eating or emotional support. One additional essential caregiver also may be designated if the individual is a clergy member.
With all types of visits, screening of individuals should be in place along with proper PPE use and infection control measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among facility residents, according to DHSS.