Federal rules may shine light on COVID cases in Mo long-term care facilities

Advocates say facilities will now be required to inform families of coronavirus cases.

Megan Lynch
April 28, 2020 - 9:19 am

ST. LOUIS, MO (KMOX) - Reporting of COVID-19 illnesses and deaths in long-term care facilities has been haphazard across the country.  As KMOX News has learned, in Missouri it's anyone's guess how widespread the coronavirus really is at those sites. 

"Missouri has made it optional for facilities to communicate that or not to residents, their families, and staff," says Marjorie Moore, Executive Director of VOYCE, an advocacy group for residents of long-term care

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Moore says by some reports there are 20 nursing care sites with COVID-19 cases in Missouri.  By other reports, nearly 100 facilities have residents or staff with the virus.

Moore says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is now rolling out new guidelines that will require uniform reporting of positive COVID cases or if there are respiratory symptoms in three residents or staff within 72 hours of one another. 

"If we have across the board reporting that's the same for all states ... we can really look at the trends across the nation to understand, are we doing better or worse here in Missouri?" Moore says. "Are our long term care residents safer or not?  What's really going on?"

As part of the new requirements, residents and their designated family representative would also be notified as well.

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