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COVID numbers continue decline

COVID-19 cases continue to decline in the area as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidance on wearing masks.

The St. Francois County Health Center reported on Monday that the county recorded 83 new cases from Feb. 16-22. Of those cases, 75 were confirmed and eight were probable.

That’s down from 265 cases that were recorded for the week of Feb. 2-8.

The testing positivity rate is down to 6.5% from 19.6%.

COVID-related deaths have gone up by six — four confirmed and two probable — in the past 10 days, bringing the total to 270 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Friday, the CDC relaxed mask guidelines for communities that are considered low to medium risk. In those areas, the CDC advises that healthy residents can go without a mask indoors.

According to the CDC, the risk is determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

St. Francois County is considered at medium risk. The CDC advises that residents in medium risk areas that are at high risk of severe illness to check with a doctor about whether they should wear a mask. Those who have COVID symptoms, have tested positive, or have been exposed to COVID should still wear a mask, according to the guidelines.

Last Tuesday at the St. Francois County Commission meeting, Health Center Director Linda Ragsdale said if residents are fully vaccinated, they don’t need to wear a mask unless they are immunocompromised or at risk.

Madison County is the only area county considered high risk by the CDC, so residents are still advised to wear a mask indoors.

The Madison County Health Department reported 51 new cases from Feb. 14-23. According to the state’s COVID dashboard, the county has recorded seven cases over the past week and the positivity rate is 3.5%.

Iron, Ste. Genevieve, and Washington Counties are all considered medium risk by the CDC.

Iron County has recorded eight new cases over the past seven days, state data says. The positivity rate is 6.5%.

Ste. Genevieve County added 13 new cases during the past week and the positivity rate is 5.2%, according to the state dashboard.

The Washington County Health Department reported 24 new cases and four deaths over the week of Feb. 15-22. The positivity rate is 9.4%, down from 14.6% the week before.

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