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As cases increase in Madison County, COVID/flu clinic set for Jan. 20; Government’s free COVID test website launches

An increase in COVID and flu cases at Marquand Zion-School District has led the district to go to virtual learning through Jan. 24. The health department is also holding a COVID and influenza testing clinic in Madison County.

The Madison County Health Department announced a free COVID and Influenza testing clinic from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Jan. 20 at St. Michael’s Auditorium located at 400 West Main in Fredericktown.

No pre-registration is required but the laboratory form will be available online if you wish to complete it prior to testing. Once you arrive at the auditorium, you will be provided a number and must stay in your car until your number is called. Masks will be required.

“Please only request testing if you are symptomatic,” a letter from the MCHD said. “This includes cold or sinus type symptoms, cough, headache, body aches, runny or congested nose, chest congestion, shortness of breath, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss or change in sense of taste and/or smell, and anything that is unusual or different for you.”

MCHD is requesting help with the clinic and is looking for vaccinated volunteers. All volunteers will be provided personal protective equipment and be given instructions. If you are interested in volunteering, call MCHD Administrator Becky Hunt at 573-783-1131

All questions regarding the clinic may be directed to the health department at 573-783-2747 or 573-783-1131

COVID-19 cases within Madison County have been on the rise over the last week with Jan. 13 having an increase of 45 positive cases.

The Madison County Health Department, as of Jan. 14, has reported 219 cases of COVID-19 since the first of the year with 129 cases still active. This number has already surpassed the 195 cases reported during the entire month of December.

Last week, Marquand-Zion School District made the decision to go to virtual learning through Jan. 24 due to the amount of flu and COVID cases at the school.

In a post on its Facebook page, the school said the decision was made to mitigate the spread. The post asked parents to keep their children quarantined and if they had to be out to have students social distance and wear a mask.

Hunt released the following recommendations in a letter to the citizens of Madison County on Jan. 13:

To mitigate the current outbreak of COVID you will need to:

• Wear a mask when you are unable to social distance.

• Stay home if you have tested positive for COVID for a PCR, Antigen or a home test for 5 days minimum. You may return to your regular routine after 5 days if you have been fever free for 24 hours without any fever-reducing medications, this includes sinus medications over-the-counter or prescribed and have significant improvement of your symptoms; and wear a mask for 5 additional days when you are around others.

• If you think it is just a cold or sinus congestion, seek testing for COVID. Isolate from others, including your household members, until you receive negative results from this test. If the test(s) performed is positive for COVID, influenza or any other respiratory illness, by isolating, you have reduced the potential spread of the virus.

• All persons who have been potentially exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID should monitor for symptoms for 10 days from their last day of exposure to the positive person. It is encouraged they wear a mask during the 10 days when they are unable to social distance when around others.

• Consider being vaccinated. All persons age 5 years and older are eligible to be vaccinated.

Should your employer require a letter from the health department for positive COVID test, you will need to obtain a test through your medical provider.

The letter further states, “If we all follow these recommendations for the next 30 days, we can reduce the outbreak. Could the outbreak naturally run its course? Yes, but these prevention recommendations will reduce the current and immediate future cases that can lead to hospitalizations and deaths.”

Free COVID tests

COVID-19 tests, where they are, and how they can be acquired seem to be leading questions for many these days, as Missouri transmission of the potentially-deadly virus remains high and the caseload continues to climb.

The federal government is trying to help meet the demand with its launch of a website where Americans can order up to four free tests

Insurance companies are required to reimburse members for test kits purchased as far back as Jan. 15, although most will want their members to purchase the tests within network.

Wednesday marks the first official day Americans can go online and order up to four kits directly from the federal government. The Biden administration hopes to distribute 1 billion tests, and opened the site with a soft launch on Tuesday. 

St. Francois County Health Center Director Linda Ragsdale wants local citizens to know how to report an at-home COVID test.

“If you test positive on a home test and would like to report your results to the health department, please visit our website here: and click the button labeled ‘Report a Positive @Home Test’ on the COVID-19 page,” she emailed the Daily Journal late last week.

“This is voluntary and NOT REQUIRED. Additional data helps to provide a more accurate snapshot of cases and county transmission,” Ragsdale continued. “At-home test results (both positive and negative) are suspect and NOT counted in our data. By providing the case information asked on the form, our team can determine if a positive home test meets CDC case definition for probable which then (and only then) would be counted in our numbers.”

According to data collected through Friday, the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) COVID Data Tracker shows St. Francois County with 622 cases, an almost 6% increase over the previous seven days. There’s been a 3.4% increase in positivity among people who were tested. The good news is, the CDC’s numbers show hospital admissions dropped about 9%.

St. Francois County Health Center continues to be a host site for DHSS COVID-19 testing every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be in the parking lot (drive-thru) as before. This is a PCR test, results are usually within 24 hours. This service is available for anyone, no appt. needed.

Iron County shows 52 cases, a 21% increase in the previous seven days. Hospital admissions are flat.

Ste. Genevieve County, according to the CDC, had 139 cases as of Friday, a 5% increase. There was a 22% rate of positivity among those tested, which was a 3% drop.

Washington County’s caseload increased 26%, with 185 cases reported. The positivity rate among those tested increased by 1% to 15%. Still, hospitalizations dropped 56%.

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