Missouri’s first alternate care site to assist St. Louis-area hospitals in treating COVID-19 patients has opened in north St. Louis County. A Florissant hotel has been converted into the care facility.

Missouri Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Sandy Karsten and Governor Mike Parson speak at a media briefing on April 17, 2020 in Jefferson City (photo courtesy of the governor’s Flickr)

Governor Mike Parson (R) announced on April 8 that Missouri was moving forward with the first alternate care site. Construction began last weekend. In response to a question from Missourinet at the governor’s Friday briefing in Jefferson City, state Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Sandy Karsten announced that it’s opened.

“Keep in mind why this site was constructed, and that was to assist the hospitals in the St. Louis area,” Karsten says. “And today, there are three patients at this alternate care site being cared for by the medical group from the 139th Missouri Air Wing.”

Governor Parson says since Missouri is under a federal disaster declaration, FEMA is paying 75 percent of construction costs and the costs of caring for the patients there.

The governor says that, if necessary, the Florissant site could accommodate more than 100 people and be used to house those who test positive for COVID-19 with mild or no symptoms. It could also be used to house those exposed to COVID-19 and identified and referred by health care professionals as requiring treatment but not hospitalization.

“This alternate care site, which will include medical staffing from the Missouri National Guard and SEMA’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team, can significantly increase their (Missouri hospitals) capacity by freeing up hospital beds for patients with more acute medical needs,” Parson said on April 8.

SEMA is the State Emergency Management Agency. SEMA and the Missouri National Guard are both part of DPS.

The Florissant site was chosen because it’s located in an area with the potential need for additional beds. Utilities were also available to begin immediate construction.

State Rep. Alan Green, D-Florissant, told Missourinet this week that the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately impacting African-American communities, especially in pockets of north St. Louis County. Green says black residents are feeling a disproportionate impact of the disease.

State health officials say there are now 5,517 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Missouri, along with 175 deaths. The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced the updated numbers on Saturday afternoon.

The deaths have increased by ten, from Friday’s number of 165.

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