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Coronavirus in Buchanan County? No cases so far, hospital says it is prepared

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Buchanan County or Mosaic Life Care system, but hospital officials said they are ready if the outbreak reaches the area.

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 8:41 PM
Updated: Mar 25, 2020 9:18 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Buchanan County or Mosaic Life Care system, but hospital officials said they are ready if the outbreak reaches the area.

Mosaic has sent 81 patients samples to be tested at a commercial or state lab as of Wednesday afternoon. To date, 49 have come back negative, 32 are pending and 0 have come back positive.

On Wednesday, Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services reported a total of 356 positive cases of COVID-19. That’s 101 more than Tuesday.

Doniphan County reported its first case Tuesday. The case is not in Mosaic’s system but it serves as a reminder that cases are inching closer to northwest Missouri.

“Currently, we are at tier three on a six-tier system that means we have had at least one patient proven to have a positive test for COVID-19 in our primary or secondary service area.” Dr. Mark Laney, CEO of Mosaic said. 

In response, the hospitals and clinics in the system have further restricted who can come in. Patients can only have one visitor and the hospital has closed some of its entrances, Laney said. Additionally, all people coming into a Mosaic facility must answer questions and pass a temperature check.

Earlier this week, the Missouri State Medical Association asked Gov. Mike Parson to order Missourians to shelter-in-place. The Association represents physicians from across the state and has about 4,000 members.

According to MSMA’s letter, that order is the only way to curb the exponential growth of the pandemic and every day without it is a waste of crucial healthcare resources.

“If things progress as is, COVID-19 patients will deplete the state’s available hospital beds, ventilators, and precious personal protection equipment,” MSMA’s president Dr. James DiRenna said in the letter.

It echoes a concern voiced by hospitals, doctors, nurses and researchers across the country. If the number of coronavirus cases climbs at the current rate, hospitals will be overwhelmed.

Laney said he is concerned as he watches what is happening in New York. The state reports more than 30,000 cases and close to 300 deaths Wednesday, according to our New York affiliate WABC.

But he said an overwhelmed system is the worst-case scenario and what is happening in New York is unlikely because of key differences.

“Our population density is not near what New York is, our geographic location, the fact that we are a smaller community all are in our favor. I think it's unlikely that we are in a circumstance like that. We are preparing for all scenarios,” Laney said.

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