CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. — The Camden County Health Department is investigating the first confirmed case of the Coronavirus COVID-19 at Lake of the Ozarks.

The case is not related to travel, CCHD announced Sunday on its Facebook page. “Close contacts will be notified and requested to self isolate for 14 days,” CCHD stated. 

The Lake Regional Health System late Friday told LakeExpo it had submitted “some” patient samples to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, but did not elaborate on the exact number of samples sent.

"The supplies needed to perform the tests remain limited," Lake Regional CEO Dane Henry says.

On Friday, Camden County Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty said he expected local health departments would be receiving a large number of kits this week.  

Within minutes of the county health department’s confirmation of the first case in Camden County on Sunday, Lake Regional sent local media the following “Letter To Our Community” from CEO Dane Henry.

In this uncertain time for all of us, we want to take a moment to reassure you that Lake Regional Health System has been planning and preparing to ensure the health and safety of the people we serve.

As a health system built for this region, by this region, we are steadfastly committed to you, your family and our employees. At this moment, that commitment includes additional shifts and extensive precautions. We are up to the challenge, and we are responding swiftly to a rapidly changing situation. 

Here’s an honest look at what we’re facing today.

The COVID-19 testing process is complicated. And although the situation is improving, the supplies needed to perform the tests remain limited.

We are following strict guidelines established by the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prioritize testing of people in immediate need. That includes those who are sick enough to be hospitalized because we need to know what’s causing their illnesses to treat them properly. In the event that they are suffering from COVID-19, we must take special precautions, including certain personal protective equipment for their caregivers. Another high-priority category is high-risk patients with underlying health issues, like heart and lung disease, or who are immunocompromised. Health care workers demonstrating symptoms may also become prioritized because we want everyone who can be on the front lines available to take care of patients.

We know there are people with mild symptoms who want testing because they are concerned about infecting their loved ones. Please take precautions to quarantine yourself from others and understand that we must test people who are high risk first. We are working to make testing more accessible to more people our community, but it will take a bit more time. Please continue to be patient and trust that we are doing all we can.

We’re taking steps to protect our patients and the community.

As a protective measure, we are no longer allowing visitors in our hospital, with exceptions for pediatric and birth center patients and end-of-life circumstances. Hospital entrances are restricted, and we screen everyone who enters our facilities, including employees, for fever, symptoms and travel history.

Based on guidance from the CDC and the American College of Surgeons, we have suspended elective procedures until further notice. Surgeons and their office managers are reviewing schedules to determine the best course of action for patients, with the goal of rescheduling all non-emergent cases. This change will reduce the load on inpatient beds at a time that we may need them for medical patients, while also reducing the risk of exposure to illness for surgical patients.

All community education, support groups and events have been cancelled through at least May 15.

Like hospitals nationwide, we are monitoring our supply of personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, and we’re taking steps to ensure we continue to provide a safe environment for our patients and employees. We believe we have an adequate supply chain to meet the demand.

We’re asking you to help protect our community.

Practice social distancing. We need everyone’s help to flatten the curve. This is especially important for those who may be at higher risk for getting this infection, and it only works if we all do our part. Even if you are not experiencing symptoms, you can be a carrier and pass the virus onto others.

If you get sick, stay home and call your doctor. Tell them about your symptoms, your travel history and if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. This will help them take care of you while keeping other people from getting infected or exposed.

Most who are infected will experience mild symptoms. If you are not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home.

We have received a great deal of support from our community. Many of you already have stepped forward with meals for employees or offers of supplies, and we thank you for your generosity and community spirit. If you’d like to contribute, contact Terri Hall at 573-348-8153 or trhall@lakeregional.com.

Our commitment runs deep.

We’re all-in — all 1,545 of us — doctors, nurses, employees, working together to see this through. You can count on us. Thank you for doing what you can to help us serve this community.

With your help, we will get through this.

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