SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital — Audrain is ramping up preparations for when COVID-19 is confirmed in Audrain County.


While Audrain County, as of Thursday morning, does not have any confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, the hospital is getting ready. A drive-thru testing site opened at the hospital Monday. Those who suspect they may have COVID-19 should contact their health care provider first for an initial consultation. If the provider feels one may have the virus, they will write orders for the drive-thru test.


Results come back within 24 hours from the drive-thru test site. Test kits are sent to a private lab in Columbia. The hospital has conducted 38 tests as of Wednesday morning.


The hospital is conducting a survey of rooms to determine how many patients it could handle, hospital Administrator Donna Jacobs said in a weekly phone conference with the Audrain County Health Department.


“We have five phases of the search plan, which could take us up to a maximum of 80 patients,” she said.


The hospital is working to convert rooms to negative pressure so the virus is not spread to other rooms, creating hot and cold areas in the emergency department and the drive-thru testing site. The hospital’s incident command center was activated Monday, as well.


Employee and visitor screenings continue. Visitors are limited to one person for compassionate care or one parent or guardian if there is a pediatric patient.


“We are pretty tight in controlling the flow into our ministry at this time,” Jacobs said.


The hospital’s supply of personal protective equipment, which includes masks, face shields and gowns, is OK for now. SSM Health is looking at the ability to extend the usability of N-95 masks through sterilization, Jacobs said. The hospital also is seeking donations, though, to supplement its supply.


“We are asking people to wear their masks for three days unless they are visibly soiled or damaged,” she said.


Other community updates:


Audrain County Developmental Disability Services has employees who are either working from home and if not, are provided a mask. Handi-shop employees have been working from home to assemble N-95 masks.


Walmart is limiting in-store customers to 450 at a time.


Simon McKeown with SSM Health Urgent Care is conducting COVID-19 testing. No positive results have happened, yet. A majority of people being tested are out-of-county residents, he said. The health department indicated it also is testing out-of-county residents.


Arthur Center Community Health has conducted six COVID-19 tests, all with negative results. Test results from Arthur Center take about three to four days for results.


Missouri Military Academy continues to maintain its contained campus.


The health department received about 300 phone calls related to the April 3 announcement of the statewide stay-at-home order from Gov. Mike Parson.


Community R-6 School district is moving to a twice-per-week meal delivery system. Students will receive meals Mondays and Thursdays. Families are asked to put a cooler outside where meals can be placed, and the district is asking meals are not retrieved until the person making the delivery is back in the delivery vehicle.


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