At least 502 people in Missouri have tested positive for the coronavirus, compared to yesterday’s count of 356. The latest state data shows the age range with the most cases is 50 to 59-year-olds. They have 114, compared to the next leading age group of 20 to 29-year-olds having 88 cases.
During a press conference today, State Health Director Randall Williams says Missouri continues to make changes to better monitor the outbreak.
“We do track negatives. We changed our regulations so that we know we that we have done more than 6,000 tests here in Missouri,” says Williams.
Missouri is currently only testing nursing home and assisted living center residents who show signs of the respiratory disease. Gov. Mike Parson says he would be willing to get everyone in the facilities tested if that was possible.
“As much as I would like to help everyone that could be able to be tested today that wants to be tested, the reality of it is we don’t have the tests,” says Parson. “They don’t have it nationally. So, we have to prioritize who we are going to test and who we are not.”
Parson says priority goes to those out on the front lines, especially healthcare workers, first responders and those with symptoms of the virus.
Missouri has relaxed some requirements to make it easier for truck drivers to deliver essential goods during the coronavirus outbreak. State Transportation Department Director Patrick McKenna says the agency will continue to look for ways to ease the challenges facing its transportation partners during this critical time.
“We’ve relaxed the hours of operation for motor carriers, to give them more flexibility for transporting goods,” says McKenna. “We’ve eased restrictions to allow for heavier than normal truckloads of emergency supplies and equipment to travel on all Missouri highways, including interstates.”
To ensure the continued transportation of essential supplies, equipment, and individuals, the Missouri Department of Revenue has also issued the following extensions in coordination with MoDOT:
• Sixty-day extension of driving privileges: This extension applies to individuals with CDL or non-CDL license expiration dates of March 1, 2020, through April 30, 2020. For example, an individual with a CDL expiring March 1, 2020, will have until May 1, 2020, to complete the required license renewal in their local license office.
• Extension of CDL medical certificates: This extension applies to individuals holding a CDL or CLP with a current medical certificate that has been issued for a period of 90 days or more and has an expiration date of March 1, 2020, through April 30, 2020. These individuals have been granted an extension of their medical certification until June 30, 2020. This relief will give Missouri’s commercial drivers additional time to complete the required medical exam and to submit an updated medical certificate to their local license office so their Missouri driver record can be updated.
• Both of these extensions have been applied automatically, so no additional action is required by eligible drivers to qualify.
McKenna says rest areas around the state are also being cleaned and disinfected on a more frequent basis.
Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH) Director Mark Stringer says the agency serves people of all ages with mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Department helps about 170,000 people a year through both institutions and community programs.
To ensure the department’s services continue with as little disruption as possible, it has worked with partners across state government to make it possible for community providers to do much of their work by telephone, rather than the traditional face-to-face requirement. Service providers have also dramatically increased their use of telehealth, and the agency is exploring ways to stay in touch with people who cannot afford cell phones or extra minutes.
For psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation centers, DMH has worked with other state departments to share best practices, policies, and procedures during times of crisis. Public visitation is temporarily suspended at all DMH facilities and offices statewide.
Stringer says the Federal Disaster Distress Help Line was created for times like the current coronavirus outbreak. Stringer encouraged citizens struggling to cope with the health crisis to contact the 24/7 hotline.
“It is staffed with mental health professionals who can talk with you and if you need more help than they can provide, they can connect you with services here in Missouri,” says Stringer. “Specially, they can connect you with our Access Crisis Intervention System or ACI.”
Stringer says the ACI, which is free and confidential, is staffed with professionals linked to state certified mental health and substance misuse services.
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