Gov. Mike Parson says 163 long-term care sites in Missouri, including nursing homes and assisted living centers, have had coronavirus cases. Some have already had mass testing on site. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has issued a new order today requiring long-term care sites with a positive coronavirus case to test all residents and staff in these high-risk settings.

Gov. Mike Parson (Photo courtesy of Parson’s Flickr page)

“We will be working with the 50 homes that have not completed facility-wide testing this week,” Parson says during today’s press conference. “We are working on a prioritization of these homes to ensure that the facilities most in need can complete facility-wide testing.”

Since March, nearly 11,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 605 people have died from the virus in Missouri. More than 151,000 Missourians have been tested for the respiratory disease.

State Health Department Director Randall Williams says about 12,000 Missourians have been tested to find out whether they likely had the coronavirus and now have antibodies against the disease. Of those tested, 430 have had COVID-19.

“Those are presumptively positive,” he says. “We don’t count them in our data that you hear on our website. We treat them differently.”

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams (Photo courtesy of governor’s Flickr page)

The Mayo Clinic says if you are tested for antibodies too early in the course of infection, when immunity is still building up, the test may not spot antibodies. People who have recovered from COVID-19 are eligible to donate their plasma to help treat others with a severe form of the disease.

Williams says antibody testing will be done to help with surveillance of the virus.

“I think it’s first utilization is going to be really around healthcare workers and first responders who have been through this spring and are curious whether or not they were asymptomatic or what they had was,” says Williams.

Later this summer, Williams thinks the testing will be done on a large scale to determine the prevalence of the virus. He also thinks the state will be doing surveillance testing in congregated places, like meatpacking plants and prisons, to find trends, identify outbreaks and monitor the burden of the disease in the community.

On a separate note, Gov. Parson was asked during today’s press conference if he plans to intervene in Tuesday’s scheduled execution of convicted murder Walter Barton.

“I do not,” he says. “That will move forward as scheduled.”

Barton was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1991 killing of 81-year-old Gladys Kuehler. She managed a mobile home park in the small southwest Missouri town of Ozark.

The U.S. Supreme Court could still weigh in on the case.

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