Missouri seeks retired medical staff, others to fight virus

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri is asking medical professionals who are not working to join a specialized state team that responds to critical health emergencies.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

“We are calling on all available medical professionals to support the effort to fight the virus by joining a critical reserve unit now focusing on providing care in high need areas across the state,” Gov. Mike Parson said Saturday. “Their efforts can help save the lives of their fellow Missourians.”

Selected medical workers would become part of the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team. The state is asking health care students, retired health care workers and those whose professional registration recently expired to apply online for the team.

Individuals are needed with backgrounds in medicine, nursing, allied health, dentistry, biomedicine, laboratory science, logistics and communications.

Medical personnel from the team have already deployed to augment staffing at Golden Valley Hospital in Clinton and Western Missouri Medical Center in Warrensburg.

The call for help for more medical professionals came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri on Saturday reached 2,291, up 178 from a day earlier. State health officials reported 24 people have died of COVID-19 in Missouri.

Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus website lists 33 deaths for Missouri, and state officials acknowledged on Saturday that the official count has lagged behind because Missouri had not been requiring until this upcoming Sunday that coronavirus deaths to be reported within 24 hours.

Also on Saturday, major health care systems in the St. Louis region announced the creation of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. Participants include the BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSMHealth and St. Luke’s Hospital.

The task force aims to ensure collaboration and coordination of supplies, hospital beds and other critical assets. It also plans daily public briefings about regional efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Parson issued a statewide stay-at-home order Friday, meaning Missouri has joined about 40 other states requiring residents to avoid going out except for essential purposes. The statewide order takes effect Monday and expires April 24.

Most infected people develop mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within three weeks, such as fever and cough. But older adults and people with existing health problems are particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Parson used his daily briefing on Saturday to reassure Missourians that the food supply chain remains strong.

“All Missourians can count on our farmers and ranchers all across the state to make sure that we continue to have an abundant supply and you will see the food in the grocery store every day when you go,” said Chris Chinn, Missouri Department of Agriculture director.

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