Lake of the Ozarks is braced for the spread of the coronavirus. Some churches called off services, events are being postponed and supplies of many items are dwindling at local retailers.

Lake of the Ozarks is braced for the spread of the coronavirus. Some churches called off services, events are being postponed and supplies of many items are dwindling at local retailers. 

Although health and school officials as well as emergency response providers have been preparing for several weeks, the announcements late last week by President Donald Trump and Governor Mike Parson declaring emergencies escalated not only response from those directly involved but also with the general public. Long lines were the norm as residents stocked up. Supplies of some goods are being limited as retailers wait for deliveries to restock shelves and many residents spent the weekend preparing to adjust their schedules and activities. 

Tourism- related businesses and venues are beginning to feel the impact just as the season begins. Lodging facilities are reporting they are starting to see cancellations and an increase in inquiries.  

As the lake area braces for the spread of coronavirus, healthcare, utility providers and others are amping up to provide critical medical services and relief to those who may be impacted, to provide vital medical  working to provide vital services and offer relief to those who may be impacted. 

At Lake Regional Health System, a screening process has been implemented for visitors to the hospital. 

Beginning March 14, visitors will be screened for illness and travel history before entering the facility.

As part of the hospital’s preparedness plan to ensure patients can safely avoid exposure to respiratory illnesses, the hospital has erected a temporary tent outside its Emergency Department to screen for symptoms of the flu and COVID-19.

“Don’t be concerned when you see the tent on our campus,” Lake Regional Health System CEO Dane Henry said. “We have added an additional step to triage where our nurses will ask a series of questions. This will help us determine if the patient should be wearing a mask and following certain other protocols.”

Area residents who are experiencing flu-like symptoms are encouraged to stay home and call their doctor before heading to a local clinic or emergency department.

“When you call, tell them about your symptoms and your travel history,” said Henry. “This will help your doctor take care of you while protecting others from the spread of illness.”

Much like the flu, most individuals who come into contact with COVID-19 have mild symptoms. These people can recover at home, ensuring community resources are available to care for individuals who do require hospitalization.

Henry stressed that the tent is a preparedness step for the hospital; it is not a testing center for COVID-19.

To contact a Lake Regional primary care provider or a Lake Regional Express Care location, visit lakeregional.com/locations for a complete list of phone numbers and business hours.

If you do not have a health care provider, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has activated a 24-hour hotline at 877-435-8411.

Lake Regional Health System has also imposed  visitor restrictions to the hospital to help limit the spread of illness in the community.

Effective 7 p.m. Saturday, March 14, visitors to the hospital must be 18 years or older. Each patient is limited to two healthy adults per visit. All visitors are being asked to enter the hospital’s emergency department entrance where they will be screened for fever, symptoms and travel. 

“We are taking this precautionary measure recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure we are doing all we can to protect the health of our patients and employees, Henry said. 

While no public schools have announced plans to shut down, school officials have plans in place if that becomes necessary. Superintendents are working with local and state health officials monitoring the spread of the virus

However, the Columbia College campus in Osage Beach has suspended classes. In a statement released on Friday, college officials said classes were suspended nationwide to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

State Fair Community College - Lake Campus notified students on Mar. 13 that classes would not resume until after spring break. SFCC recommended students prepare for an extended break. 

Amid the response prevention and detection, Ameren Missouri, which serves a large portion of the Lake of the Ozarks, is taking steps to aid those who may be impacted by hardships by suspending disconnections due to non-payment. 

In a statement on the utility provider’s Facebook page, Ameren Missouri said they were committed to helping “our customers get through these difficult and unpredictable times.”

Effective immediately, Ameren Missouri will suspend all disconnections for non-payment and forgive any late payment fees for residential and business customers. We encourage customers who are having difficulty paying their bill to contact our customer care team or visit us at http://spr.ly/61831SFHX for a variety of payment options. 

Editor’s note: If you have cancellations, please let us know so we can include your events in our ongoing coverage of COVID-19. We will be updating coverage as often as possible. We are also in the process of suspending our paywall for coronavirus coverage in order to provide our readers with the latest coverage and developments at no cost. Keep checking for updates. 

News and cancellations can be emailed to newsroom@lakesunonline or call 1-573-346-2132 and ask for Charis Patires or Mitch Prentice. Please note you may be asked to follow a series of prompts to reach us. As part of our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, some members of our staff have been moved to working remotely.