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Government, Politics & Issues

Missouri To Spend $30 Million For Short-Term COVID Patient Treatment

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Jonathan Ahl
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St. Louis Public Radio
Gov. Mike Parson announces funding Wednesday to help health care providers treat COVID-19 patients.

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson is authorizing $30 million for additional efforts to treat COVID-19 patients as the delta variant continues to spread throughout the state.

Half of the money, which is coming from federal coronavirus relief funding, will go toward additional staffing at hospitals that are near or at capacity. Depending on their size, hospitals can receive up to $200,000 to hire contract health care staff to help tend to patients.

Parson said Wednesday he has been assured by health care staffing companies that properly trained people are available for the contract work.

“We feel pretty confident right now that we are going to be able to get those extra bodies in here in short fashion,” Parson said. “So we hope to have that in place in a very short period of time.”

Hospitals around the state have indicated their intensive care units and total patient beds are at or near capacity because of COVID patients.

The other half of the money will be used to set up five sites around the state to administer antibodies to treat COVID patients who are at high risk of needing hospitalization, including the elderly or those with underlying conditions.

“The treatments would have to be administered before they would see severe illness,” said Robert Knodell, the acting director of the state department of Health and Senior Services. “So they are referred, typically by a physician, to have that treatment taken. And my understanding is it takes, for an individual, about three hours.”

Parson also said the state’s vaccine incentive program is working, with 200,000 Missourians having started the vaccination process since the program was unveiled.

About 50% of the state’s residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

The drawing for the first $10,000 winner will be held Friday.

New DNR director

Parson also announced Wednesday that Dru Buntin will be the new director of the state Department of Natural Resources.

Buntin has been deputy director since 2017 and has more than 15 years' experience with the state DNR and 20 years in Missouri government.

Buntin says his top priorities are helping to continue collaborative infrastructure improvements at the state’s parks and conservation areas, and seeking more funding opportunities for the department.

Buntin replaces Carol Comer, who died in June.

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