Health department investigating COVID-19 outbreak at Great Circle campus in St. James

Lori Amos
A testing kit sits on the windshield of a car as it passes through a drive-through COVID-19 testing site set up by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and operated by the Missouri National Guard Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Charles, Mo. The location is one of several providing free testing, even to those showing no symptoms, in an effort to get a better idea of the level of coronavirus infection and possibly identify asymptomatic carriers.

Eight confirmed COVID-19 cases in Phelps County, two in Maries County, one in Dent County and one in Pulaski County are related to the outbreak, the Phelps Maries County Health Department said.

One positive case from Phelps County and one positive case form Maries County are direct household contacts to employees that have tested positive. One case remains hospitalized, requiring ventilation. The remainder of the cases are isolated at home, according to the department in a release Thursday. 

“Prompt action was taken by Great Circle to assist in providing the health departments with information necessary for contact tracing to ensure all potential contacts were identified and contacted directly by the appropriate health department,” the Phelps Maries County Health Department said.

The department said facility-wide testing was conducted at Great Circle's campus in St. James, which may lead to an increase in positive cases as results from the tests become available.  

In a statement provided to the health department Thursday, Great Circle stated:

“Nothing is more important than the health of our clients, their families and our staff.

“As part of everyday operations, Great Circle follows stringent policies and procedures to minimize the risk of exposure to all infectious diseases. This commitment to care, as well as guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health authorities, has guided our COVID-19 response plan since early March.

“All plans and procedures were in place when Great Circle was notified of staff who work at our residential campus in St. James, MO testing positive for COVID-19. We immediately implemented our safety measures, which include the quarantine of all potentially exposed staff and clients in our care, and we are fully complying with measures recommended by local public health authorities.

“As Great Circle redoubles efforts to support the behavioral health needs of the children and families we serve, we remain vigilant in our infection control efforts and are doing all we can to support efforts to combat this pandemic.”

The Phelps Maries County Health Department will update the public as more results come in. The department is not releasing further details related to the outbreak, citing concerns with privacy. 

The department confirmed 20 total cases of COVID-19 in Phelps County on Thursday.