COVID 100220

The Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific has seen an increase in positive COVID-19 cases among inmates.

Since The Missourian’s last report, there are 16 inmates who have tested positive for the virus, which is double the number of active cases the prison reported for inmates Sept. 19.

The number of staff at the prison infected with the virus has decreased from 20 to 12 since Sept. 19.

Overall, 44 staff members and 178 inmates have tested positive for the virus with 32 staff members and 162 inmates listed as recovered. The prison has a maximum capacity for 1,130 inmates. The Missouri Department of Corrections does not release staffing numbers for individual facilities.

Meanwhile, the Franklin County Health Department reported 23 new virus cases Friday, bringing the total number of cases reported in the county since March to 1,877.

Of concern is the increase in virus cases at long-term care facilities over the last two weeks. Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said the county is monitoring the situation closely.

The health department reported Sept. 23 there were five active cases in nursing homes and since then that number has risen to 17. The county has not identified which nursing homes have active cases.

“Those who are most vulnerable (to COVID-19) and at an increased risk always raise concerns when we see those cases increasing,” Brinker said. “We are monitoring those cases (in long-term care) closely, and those facilities have implemented mitigation measures to help get those cases on the decline.”

Mercy Hospital Washington officials, meanwhile, report that the number of patients hospitalized for the virus has declined. As of Oct. 2, the hospital was caring for 12 patients, ages 61-84, with COVID-19, including five patients in the ICU and two on ventilators.

Ten of the hospital’s 13 ICU beds are full currently, with the average stay in the ICU being 5.6 days, according to Mercy Hospital Washington President Eric Eoloff.

“We are experiencing a welcome downward trend in the last week of new COVID patients needing hospitalization,” Eoloff said. “We sincerely hope this trend continues, and we encourage the public to heed public health experts’ advice around masking, social distancing and hand hygiene.”

While the hospital has had patients hospitalized with both flu and COVID-19, it currently has no flu cases.

The most recent testing positivity rate over the last 14 days in Franklin County is 10.49 percent with the 14-day new case average being 29.93, according to the health department. Thirty Franklin County residents have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

While nearby areas like Jefferson County have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, Franklin County is not anticipating the same spike in numbers, according to Brinker.

“Right now our numbers are trending down, which is what we like to see,” Brinker said. “I am confident that those numbers will keep going down if people continue to make efforts (in preventing the spread).”

Part of those efforts, according to Brinker, is making sure people quarantine after getting tested for COVID-19 until they receive results.

According to the county health department report, there have been a total of 28,513 negative test results for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Brinker said the turnaround for testing can be anywhere from 24 hours to four days. “There are some rapid tests available (for COVID-19) where results come back in 24 hours, but for other testing, turnaround time takes three to four days.”