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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy of Missouri Governor’s OfficeMissouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams speaks during a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, as Gov. Mike Parson looks on.

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In Missouri, 468 long-term care facilities have had at least one positive case of COVID-19 among residents, staff or both, Gov. Mike Parson said Tuesday.

That information from Parson came Tuesday amid an ongoing outbreak at the Jefferson City Manor nursing home that's infected 68 people — including more than half of the home's residents and 28 of its staff — and wherein three people have died.

In response to the outbreak at Jefferson City Manor, JMS Senior Living — the company that owns the nursing home — said in a news release, "Since March, the Jefferson City Manor staff has screened every resident and staff member every day for possible signs and symptoms of the virus and provided enhanced infection control precautions. This is the first time any Jefferson City Manor residents or staff have tested positive for coronavirus."

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters Tuesday at the state Capitol the federal government has more assistance coming for nursing homes.

Birx visited Missouri this week and had a meeting Tuesday with Parson and members of his administration.

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The federal government has been for two months surging personal protective equipment to nursing homes across the U.S., "and critically, we've been adding the ability to test," Birx told a reporter when asked about the availability of ongoing federal help for nursing homes dealing with COVID-19.

She said 12-15 percent of nursing homes have received tests over the past two weeks, and "we'll continue to surge the ability to test into every single nursing home over the next four weeks, until every nursing home has the ability to test their staff weekly."

That kind of testing is already happening to some degree at some local nursing homes. Lutheran Senior Services' website stated weekly universal testing of residents and staff members who have not previously tested positive for COVID-19 is conducted at the St. Joseph's Neighborhood Care Center — part of the Heisinger Bluffs home.

There have been new COVID-19 cases among staff at both those facilities from Aug. 8-14, according to LSS.

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Parson said Tuesday that as testing capacity has improved, "we've been able to work more closely with the facilities that have been heavily impacted."

He said the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has helped nearly 400 congregated living facilities implement a box-in testing strategy to try to contain outbreaks.

Parson credited the idea for the strategy to Birx, from a previous phone call.

In terms of how COVID-19 spreads once it gets inside a nursing home, DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said spread happens there primarily through staff and the close quarters nature of the facility.

"If you look at prisons, nursing homes, cruise ships, it literally is being that close together, I think is what really drives (spread)," Williams said.

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