JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Every weekday at noon since Jan. 27, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams gathers his outbreak response team for a meeting on coronavirus.

Missouri has yet to have a confirmed case of what officials are now calling COVID-19, but about 20 people statewide are being monitored for the novel viral infection originating from Wuhan, China. While 15 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. so far, tens of thousands of people have been infected worldwide and more than 1,300 have died. Global — and local — fears of the spread of the respiratory virus are fueling concerns about a lack of preparation in the U.S.

Missouri health department staff have been working overtime preparing for

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