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Businesses adapt as delta variant fuels Missouri COVID-19 spike

One-hundred percent of Dolan's patients are already vaccinated, a requirement to live and work here, but with new residents and staff moving in all the time

ST. LOUIS — At Dolan Memory Care Homes, a two-man construction team runs wires through what will soon be the entryway for a new group home, housing 10 or 11 residents. 

One-hundred percent of Dolan's patients are already vaccinated, a requirement to live and work here, but with new residents and staff moving in all the time, that level of protection can be a moving target.

"It's dynamic in nature," owner Tim Dolan said of the business. "We are constantly bringing people in, new residents in, as well as new staff. So we knew that it was important that we vaccinate everybody because that's our policy around here. We feel like the key to our success in beating COVID is being vaccinated."

To keep vaccine participation at 100%, Dolan opens a cardboard box, lifting the flip to wave of cold air, explaining "it's got dry ice in it."

Dolan says they're now on the list of state coronavirus vaccinators, a process that required multiple applications, new equipment, and software that automatically notifies three staffmembers' cell phones should the vials ever start to get too warm. But it's key to their success because it means they can give shots on site to new patients, staff, even arranging them occasionally for family members.

"f you've been vaccinated you have certain privileges that you wouldn't have if you didn't get vaccinated," Dolan said of the visitation policy. "We believe that the vaccine is important in keeping [coronavirus] out."

The changes come as St. Louis County reports a surge in new coronavirus cases.

"Our seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases jumped 35% in the last week," Page said. The county currently has 90 hospitalized COVID patients, a number that averaged in the low twenties just weeks ago.

Page put the sudden increase squarely on the delta variant, which the CDC announced Wednesday now accounts for more than half of all new US coronavirus diagnoses.

A letter recently sent to families outlines changes in Dolan's visitation policy, which they say will hopefully result in visits that are more like pre-pandemic standards. Vaccinated guests can come without appointments and visit loved ones anywhere at the homes. But because of the delta variant, they have bumped up testing. Staff and residents were tested once every two weeks, a process that now happens every week.

"We will adapt to what's going on and what's happening. That's just the way we do things around here," Dolan said.