Cases of COVID-19 are on the decline again, but St. Francois County Health Director Linda Ragsdale warned that the virus is not going away.
According to the latest numbers released by the health center on Monday, the county recorded 443 (361 confirmed, 82 probable) new cases between Jan. 28 and Feb. 3, down from 735 the week before.
“I do believe cases will continue to decrease as omicron runs its course through our population, but the COVID-19 virus is not gone, nor is it going away,” Ragsdale said. “Another variant will be just around the corner, such as BA.2. Everyone should continue to practice good health measures and mitigation strategies.”
The BA.2 variant, according to the Associated Press, is a descendant of omicron that is widely considered harder to detect and scientists worry could be more contagious. It has been found in at least 40 countries, including the United States.
The testing positivity rate in St. Francois County is down to 25.1% from 29.3%.
“Case numbers are still higher than we would like to see,” Ragsdale added. “We suspect our case rate is much higher due to the fact that most individuals are not reporting at-home testing.
“We continue to encourage vaccination against COVID-19 to prevent severe illness and hospitalizations. We offer the vaccine and booster daily.”
Residents can report positive results from at-home test on the health center’s website at sfchc.org/covid-19-updates/.
The health center offers vaccines and boosters every day from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. No appointments are necessary.
In the county, 43.1% have complete vaccination, which is up just .1% from last week; 47.5% have initiated it, which is the same as last week.
According to a list compiled by Stacker, St. Francois County has the second highest COVID infection rate in Missouri. The list was made with data from the US Department of Health and Human Services and vaccination rates from COVID Act Now.
Stacker said counties are ranked by the highest infection rate per 100,000 residents within the week leading up to Jan. 31. Cumulative cases per 100,000 served as a tiebreaker.
Following is the data Stacker provided for St. Francois County:
• New cases per 100k in the past week: 1,936 (1,301 new cases, +33% change from previous week)
• Cumulative cases per 100k: 25,918 (17,421 total cases); 19.8% more cases per 100k residents than Missouri
• Cumulative deaths per 100k: 375 (252 total deaths); 34.4% more deaths per 100k residents than Missouri
• Population that is fully vaccinated: 42.5% (28,540 fully vaccinated); 21.9% lower vaccination rate than Missouri
Only New Madrid County ranked higher.
Madison County was seventh on the Stacker list and Iron County was 30th. Washington County and Ste. Genevieve County were not listed.