The St. Francois County Health Center has released updated COVID-19 quarantine guidelines for school districts.
On Monday, in a letter released on Facebook, the health center said asymptomatic close contacts of a positive case can remain in school during their quarantine period if they comply with the following:
- Parents are to be notified of the potential risk and of the modified guidelines.
- Properly-fitting masks are to be worn correctly and consistently for the 14 days after the last date of exposure.
- Properly-fitting masks must be worn correctly and consistently on bus transportation.
- Physical distancing is to be maintained when possible.
- Student health should be evaluated/monitored daily for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
- MSHSAA guidelines are to be followed when it comes to participation in competitive play.
The letter said modified quarantine does not apply to extracurricular activities. Students will be allowed just to observe the activities while physical distancing and wearing a mask correctly and consistently.
“Students who are fully vaccinated, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 90 days, or were confirmed to have an ‘in-school’ exposure where both students were correctly and consistently wearing well-fitting masks will not need to abstain from extracurricular activities, if they remain asymptomatic,” the letter said.
The health center said quarantine requirements still apply to settings outside of school.
“This modification is intended as an additional mitigation strategy and is not a requirement,” the letter said. “The St. Francois County Health Center will continue to monitor COVID-19 case rates and community positivity rates and may move to a stricter stance on close contacts in schools if the data within a school or community overall warrants such a decision.”
According to the health center, when mitigation efforts are layered, transmission of COVID can be decreased for in-school learning environments.
“St. Francois County Health Center recommends universal masking and vaccination as the best mitigation measures at this time,” the letter said, “with additional strategies, such as: physical distancing, improved ventilation, handwashing, respiratory etiquette, staying home when you are sick and getting tested, isolation, and quarantine.”
The Farmington, Ste. Genevieve and Kingston School Districts have mask mandates.
The school district tab on the state’s COVID dashboard is not currently working, but several school districts have been posting numbers on their website.
According to North County’s latest numbers released on Friday, there are 26 positive students and two positive staff members last week. Fredericktown reported eight cases last week. In Ste. Genevieve’s latest numbers, the district had 15 positive cases and 47 quarantines.
For the county as a whole, St. Francois County Health Center reported a total of 186 cases for the week of Sept. 12-18; of those, 126 were confirmed by PCR test and 60 were probable. The seven-day testing positivity rate is 12.6%.
Over the past week, the Madison County Health Department has reported 71 new cases. There are 75 active cases in the county. The DHSS listed Madison County as a COVID hotspot last week.
On Monday, the Ste. Genevieve Health Department reported seven new confirmed cases and two new probable cases. There are 23 active cases in the county.
The Iron County Health Department reported one new death and 52 new cases last week. The county has 53 active cases. There have been 29 total break-through cases reported.
The latest numbers from the Washington County Health Department show one new death and 137 new cases for the week of Sept. 8-14. The testing positivity rate was 14%.
Monoclonal antibody infusions
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) now has a map listing sites that are taking public referrals for monoclonal antibody (mAb) infusions.
The closest sites listed to St. Francois County are at Madison County Medical Center in Fredericktown and Mercy-Jefferson in Festus.
Mercy-Jefferson is a state-operated site, so there is no cost to the patient. They recommend inquiring about the cost at other locations.
“There are other providers in communities which are only providing mAb infusions to their own patients, so be sure to ask your healthcare provider, local hospital, or local community health clinic,” the DHSS website says.
According to DHSS, the best tool they have against COVID-19 is vaccination, but another tool to help fight serious COVID-19 illness is monoclonal antibodies.
“Monoclonal antibodies are proteins that can help your body fight off COVID-19 and reduce the risk of severe disease and hospitalization – if administered to high-risk patients soon after diagnosis,” its update said. “These antibodies mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful viruses like SARS-CoV-2, and they attack the virus and reduce its ability to spread through your body.”
If you test positive for COVID-19 and would like to receive a monoclonal antibody (mAb) infusion, DHSS said, discuss a medical evaluation and/or referral with your healthcare provider.
Individuals who are eligible include:
- Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. A mAb infusion should be administered within 10 days of symptom onset or positive COVID-19 test, whichever came first.
- Vulnerable individuals over the age of 12 who have had a significant exposure to COVID-19, but may not yet test positive themselves.
On Tuesday, Governor Mike Parson announced that Missouri’s six state-contracted monoclonal antibody treatment sites will be operational for an additional 30 days.
“Monoclonal antibody treatments have been successful for many COVID-19 patients and have allowed us to lessen the strain on Missouri’s health care systems,” Parson said in a news release. “However, this treatment is not a replacement for the vaccine. Encouraging more Missourians to choose vaccination is still the most effective path for us to move past COVID-19.”
The initial monoclonal antibody treatment contract with SLSCO of Galveston, Texas, was activated by DHSS in late August to provide treatment for 30 days at sites in Butler, Jackson, Jefferson, Pettis, and Scott Counties, as well as the City of St. Louis.
These sites began operating between Aug. 25-31. The 30-day extensions will apply to each site's respective operating timeline.
According to the release, to date, 1,732 patients have been treated with monoclonal antibody infusions through these sites, and several other health care systems are also providing this care to their patients as needed.
Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.