Missouri’s governor says he acted immediately when he learned about the spike in COVID-19 deaths at veterans homes, ordering an external review.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson briefs Capitol reporters in Jefferson City on October 15, 2020 (photo courtesy of the governor’s Flickr page)

Governor Mike Parson made his comments during a Thursday press conference at the Statehouse in Jefferson City, in response to questions from Missourinet. He says the state was leading the nation in the way we were taking care of veterans in the veterans homes. He says they noticed a high spike in a few veterans homes, which raised red flags.

“We immediately, once we found that information out, we reached out to the (Missouri) Veterans Commission. We asked for an investigation. That investigation is taking place, or has taken place,” Parson says.

The Missouri Veterans Commission says 56 veterans have died from COVID in Missouri, since September 1. Veterans Commission spokesman Jamie Melchert told Missourinet this week that the veterans home in southeast Missouri’s Cape Girardeau has had the most deaths: 25. Melchert says 13 veterans from the Mount Vernon Veterans Home have died, and 12 from the St. James Veterans Home.

“We immediately sent in our box-in strategy,” says Governor Parson. “We put testing supplies in the veterans (homes) to a tune of about 3,000 that are out there now, trying to really take care of that situation. But it was unfortunate that it happened, it was definitely a red flag, the way it happened.”

White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx has praised Missouri’s “box-in” strategy. The “box-in” testing strategy involves testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine.

The Veterans Commission has obtained additional staffing and resources from the federal government, to assist the Cape Girardeau and St. James homes.

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