A Pulaski County veteran with respiratory symptoms was diagnosed Wednesday with COVID-19 at Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital.
He remained in the hospital Friday and is not considered one of the eight confirmed cases reported by the Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Fort Leonard Wood raised its health alert level in response to the case, which it reported in a news release was a community transmission case, not travel-related.
"The patient is not on, or from Fort Leonard Wood," the release stated.
Truman Memorial reported the case to Pulaski County and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, spokesman Jeff Hoelscher wrote in an email.
Truman is not involved in tracking down the locations the veteran may have visited before seeking treatment or notifying any contacts the veteran may have had, Hoelscher wrote.
"Truman VA’s mission is to provide care for our veterans," Hoelscher wrote. "Contact tracing is a function of the health department."
He did not state how many employees of the hospital were potentially exposed but said they were in quarantine.
The hospital is screening everyone entering the hospital, whether it is veterans seeking treatment or employees arriving for a work shift.
"There were employees who potentially were exposed initially, Hoelscher wrote. "However, the possibility of COVID-19 quickly was identified and staff took measures to reduce additional potential exposure. According to CDC guidance, staff potentially exposed currently are home quarantined."
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Missouri on Friday morning was 47, the Department of Health and Senior Services reported.
There are case in 13 counties and the city of St. Louis. There are two known COVID-19 deaths in Missouri, including one Wednesday in Boone County.
Nationally, there were 17,303 confirmed COVID infections, with 221 deaths, not including a death Friday in Jackson County, according to data provided online by Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, the coronavirus has infected more than 259,000 people and is blamed for almost 11,300 deaths.
The veteran is the first person known to be hospitalized in Boone County with the coronavirus disease that emerged late in 2019.
The veteran is receiving care and contact is being made under protocols that include the use of personal protective equipment, the hospital stated in a Facebook post Thursday.
"The risk of transmission to other patients and staff remains low at this time," the post stated. "Truman VA continues to screen veterans and staff who present with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath who meet the CDC criteria for evaluation of COVID-19 infection. Per CDC guidance and VA protocols, individuals known to be at risk for a COVID-19 infection are immediately isolated to prevent potential spread to others."
On Monday, Truman Memorial began screening everyone entering the hospital, both veterans seeking treatment and staff, first with questions about their health followed by temperature testing, according to protocols posted on the hospital’s webpage. Anyone is fitted with a mask before entering.
The hospital intends to remain open but on Monday began suspending on elective procedures until further notice to have resources available, if needed, for coronavirus patients.
The hospital has an adequate supply of protective gear, Hoelscher wrote.
"Truman VA began preparing for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak almost two months ago, to include personal protective equipment (PPE)," he wrote. "Because PPE use is required for other patient services, we continue to resupply as needed."
The limits on access to Fort Leonard Wood means questioning those seeking access to post, to screening new trainees, to adjusting operations across garrison and staff services.
"This situation is not business as usual so the installation will conduct operations differently to allow the team to sustain its mission while taking care of their people," the base stated.