O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) – The death of a person in St. Charles County from the coronavirus is the 10th in Missouri, and as the number of confirmed cases escalates, some of the state’s biggest hospitals are being forced to “examine what all our options are” to maintain enough protective equipment.

The latest death was reported Friday night. No further details were released. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in Missouri jumped by 168 on Friday to 670. The state was expected to release an updated number Saturday afternoon.

In St. Louis, hospitals have begun rationing protective equipment for health workers out of fear that supplies could run out. Nurses and other front-line medical workers at BJC HealthCare, SSM Health, Mercy and a veterans hospital told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that hospital leaders are asking some staff to reuse masks, put limits on sanitation materials and set new policies on use of protective gear.

“With the unknown of what’s coming, and knowing that we’re seeing places across the country running into shortages, we have to examine what all our options are – to use our supplies and our PPE when necessary and appropriate, conserving it when that is also appropriate,” Mercy spokesman Joe Poelker told the newspaper. “That’s a big task.”

A doctor at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis tested positive and is quarantined at home, SSM Health said. A statement said the doctor has not seen patients at the hospital since March 16 and did not show symptoms while at work.

Confirmed cases have been reported since Friday at three additional nursing homes in the St. Louis region – one in Town and Country, one in St. Peters, and a veterans home in north St. Louis County, according to local media reports. On Thursday, confirmed cases were reported for four residents and two employees were at Life Care Center of St. Louis. Three residents and an employee also have tested positive at a facility in St. Charles.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But the virus has often proven dangerous and deadly at nursing homes. Older adults and those with existing health problems are particularly susceptible to more severe illness caused by the virus, including pneumonia.

Three residents at a Springfield assisted living center died from confirmed cases, and a fourth death that occurred before the outbreak there was recognized is suspected of being caused by the coronavirus.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department said a woman in her 90s died at the Morningside East assisted-living center before the other women at the center died. The agency said the woman wasn’t tested but it is considering her a COVID-19 victim due to her close contact with them. Four other people at the home have tested positive for the disease.

The St. Louis Blues said Friday that TV play-by-play announcer John Kelly tested positive for coronavirus and has been in self-quarantine since March 13.

“We are thrilled to report that John is now feeling strong and symptom free,” the Blues said in a statement.

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