Mosaic Life Care was one of 33 hospitals that received the antiviral drug Remdesivir last Thursday.
The Missouri Department of Health distributed 1,276 vials to treat up to 115 people in the state. Mosaic has enough supply of the drug currently to give the medication to six people and are reserving the drug for those who are on ventilators or in serious condition. Mosaic has had two shipments of the drug. They started three patients who were on ventilators on the drug and expanded to starting six patients when they received the second shipment.
“It’s an IV medication, and the recommendation is that you’re on a ventilator or some form of mechanical ventilation there. However, I do believe that will broaden.“ Mosaic Chief Quality Officer Edward Kammerer said.
Remdesivir is one of three treatment methods currently being used at Mosaic. The other two are hydroxychloroquine, which Kammerer said is usually the first treatment although there has been controversy over the effectiveness — Kammerer said Mosaic does not see a high downside — and a convalescent serum using the plasma to transfer antibodies from individuals who have already had COVID-19. Kammerer said this treatment is seeing good promise as well and they have adequate supply.
Kammerer said Remdesivir has the ability to be a potential game changer, and while it is currently being used on those on ventilators, he believes that when more testing is done and when more doses become available it can perform well when applied early to the virus, similar to other antiviral medications such as Tamiflu.
“It’s not a confirmed an absolute, this is the game-changer, but we could be cautiously optimistic on it. It does have the potential. It looks like it has some very significant potential to make a difference.” Kammerer said.
With potential COVID-19 treatments such as Remdesivir being pushed out quickly, Kammerer said safety still needs to be a top priority as hospitals are collecting data regarding how patients react to the drug, and that is one of the reasons it is currently being used only on the most critical patients.
“We don’t know that taking Remdesivir now wouldn’t have some long-term effect on you 10 years from now and we always worry about that aspect, which is why we have this system in place where we have a controlled trial too that tends to be over years to determine the benefit of a medicine as well as the potential harms,” Kammerer said.
The biggest studies for Remdesivir have been 600 people, when trials for other drugs have been done on up to 20,000 people, Kammerer said.
Community Missions street outreach workers are interviewing the homeless in St. Joseph for the U.S. Census and helping them to apply for federal stimulus checks.
The homeless are a part of the economy, and Community Missions also is offering to help those individuals with financial planning. Last Friday, eight individuals went through interviews, and six more were done on Tuesday morning.
While brainstorming the initiative, Executive Director Krista Kiger directed her staff to recommend financial planning at the homeless stimulus office.
“You have to pay a fee to cash your stimulus check, you have to pay a fee to put it on a debit card,” Kiger said. “Having access to just a regular bank account and some financial education can help folks take the next step to more financial stability.”
She has been talking to banks and credit unions in town about the best options going forward. Community Missions also helps the homeless navigate through barriers that can arise, like obtaining an ID or a birth certificate.
The interviews are taking place at the Cold Weather Shelter, which is next to the Juda House on Olive Street from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, and between 1 and 5 p.m. on Wednesdays for the next three weeks.
Kiger said many of the institutions in town, Community Missions, the Crossing, Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Salvation Army, Sisters of Solace and others, have a long-term goal to help the homeless find housing.
Regarding the census, for Buchanan County to obtain the correct funding, everyone, including the homeless, need to complete the survey every decade.
“The census population impacts many, many things. We’re able to access more federal funds for a variety of things and state funds,” Kiger said. “So we thought, well, this is an easy way for us to be able to help as many of our street homeless folk get access to the census and be counted.”
Tracy Gillespie, a street outreach worker, interviewed Ronnie Gonzalez on Tuesday morning. Gonzalez is staying at the Crossing’s emergency shelter.
“A lot of them think they’re not entitled to it,” Gillespie said. “Every single U.S. citizen is entitled to a stimulus. I mean you might not get your money if you owe back child support or back alimony, however, you know, that money will go into the proper hands.”
Many of Community Missions street outreach initiatives are financed through a HUD grant worth $50,000 that runs through November.
“The stimulus brings money into the community, because I could almost guarantee 100% of the money that we’re getting for our folks will be spent in the community,” Gillespie said.
Northwest Health Services is offering free COVID-19 testing for the homeless between 9 a.m. and noon on Wednesday Downtown at 503 S. Sixth St.
Fourteen more positive cases have been confirmed after last weekend’s community testing event at Mosaic Life Care.
A total of 1,593 tests were conducted on Saturday and Sunday.
On Monday, results were received from 814 tests, with nine returning a positive result.
On Tuesday, an additional 537 results were received confirming 14 new positive cases of COVID-19 for Buchanan County, for a total of 23 cases.
Two additional positive cases were confirmed from the clinic.
The remaining 242 tests results will be shared when available.
Statewide, Missouri recorded 11,080 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The number of cases is up by 135 from 10,945 on Monday, resulting in a 1.2% increase.
The number of deaths increased from 605 to 616.
Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University, which also counts presumptive positive cases, is reporting 11,292 cases in Missouri and 622 deaths.
In Buchanan County, 543 people have tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Mosaic Life Care has issued 4,132 tests its service area, with 202 returning a positive result, 3,718 a negative result and 212 still pending. Fourteen people are inpatients in St. Joseph.
Kansas recorded 8,340 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, up from 7,886 on Friday. A total of 173 people have died. The Kansas Department of Health announced it is ending daily reporting and instead will release numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.