JEANNIE BARTON-NORTHRUP, firstname.lastname@example.org
According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) research, a new strain of COVID-19 is causing an upswing in new hospitalization cases. Risk in the Mineral Area is still considered low, but health officials indicate they expect a steady increase in numbers as schools begin their year and more people gather together in close quarters.
“The numbers have waxed and waned over the past few months, but we are seeing a steady rise with school back in session and people out and about,” said Lauren Fitzwater, a St. Francois County Health Center nurse.
According to the CDC, every Missouri county, except two near the Iowa border, is at low COVID risk. This means that for every 100,000 people, ten or less of them have been hospitalized for COVID-19. The CDC updates its findings every week on its website at cdc.gov.
This week, the CDC reports the counties of Iron, Jefferson, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve and Washington at 8.7 new hospitalizations per 100,000 people. Madison County is slightly below that at 8.3. Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, and Perry counties were well below at 5.8. For the counties of Iron, Jefferson, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve and Washington, the rise in cases amounted to a 46.2% increase from last week.
To control the spread of COVID, Fitzwater advises testing and self-quarantining.
“Test if you have symptoms; test if you’ve been exposed. Self-quarantine for five days when you have symptoms or have been exposed,” she said. “We [St. Francois County Health Center] have free COVID testing from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Come in and get tested and educated on proper procedures for testing and quarantine.
“We should have the new variant vaccine next month. Our website and other reputable news outlets will have information about the updated vaccine.”
Each county has its own health department and testing availability. Residents should contact their local health center for more information about COVID testing and education in their county.
Websites with links to each health department for the five counties of the Parkland include:
- Iron County: 606 West Russell St., Ironton; (573)546-7121; Office hours: Mon. – Fri. 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Madison County: 105 Armory St., Fredericktown; (573)783-2747 or 573-783-1131 24/7 line; Office hours: Mon. – Fri. 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Closed for lunch 12:30 p.m. – 1 p.m.); https://www.madisoncountymohealth.com/
- St. Francois County: 1025 W. Main St., Park Hills; (573)431-1947; Office hours: Mon. – Fri. 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.; http://sfchc.org/
- Ste. Genevieve County: 115 Basler Dr., Ste. Genevieve; (573)883-7411; Office hours: Mon. – Fri. 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.; https://stegencohealth.org/contact/
- Washington County: 520 Purcell Drive Potosi; (573)438-2164; Office hours: Mon. – Fri. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; http://www.wcmohealth.org/
Because COVID is a variant virus similar to influenza, Fitzwater said the CDC is looking into coming out with annual vaccines, based on prediction models for the strain.
“Currently in discussions is a potential yearly ‘booster’ COVID vaccine intended to combat COVID variants, similar to a yearly flu vaccine,” she said.