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COVID-19 cases in SFC up to 35
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COVID-19 cases in SFC up to 35

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Health Center prepares for coronavirus

With St. Francois County reporting one new confirmed case of COVID-19 on Friday and the Memorial Day holiday on the horizon, Health Center Director Amber Elliott is urging residents to practice preventive measures.

Holidays often bring an uptick in communicable diseases, she said, so it’s important to assess the risk of individuals in your family when considering going out into public and having gatherings.

“We encourage people to utilize those preventive methods while still being able to enjoy the holiday weekend and enjoy the summer as we head into our warmer months,” Elliott said.

According to the health center, those preventive measure are:

• If you are sick, stay home and contact your medical provider.

• Practice social distancing inside and outside.

• Wear a cloth face covering or mask when you are around other people.

• Wash your hands often.

• Plan activities and outings that can be done safely so you can focus on having fun and not on the virus.

• Look for outdoor recreation spots that are less crowded so you can practice physical distancing easily.

There were two new cases reported this week, neither of which are thought to be related, according to Elliott. The newest case is still under investigation and is still considered an active case. The case earlier this week was related to travel in a place with community spread of the virus.

“The virus hasn’t disappeared; it’s still out there,” Elliot said. “And we need to continue to be vigilant and cognizant, so that people don’t get sick. We can’t prevent every infection. There’s no way. But as a community, if we can work together to do of these preventative methods, we can prevent severe outbreaks and try to be able to get ahold of these cases a little quicker. And that allows us time to quarantine and isolate cases and that prevents cases in the long run.”

Many of the area pools are opening soon, and Elliott said the main concern is for residents to still maintain social distancing.

“If pools are disinfected properly, there’s no evidence to show that COVID-19 is going to be spread through water,” Elliott said. “So that’s not really a concern; it’s more so, again, the social distancing aspect that we need to focus on, in spacing people out and, again, not going out into public when you’re sick.”

The CDC has also released their tips on staying safe at the pool, Elliott said.

Elliott hasn’t heard anything specific from the state regarding Phase 2 of the recovery plan, but she thinks the plan will still encourage social distancing.

The state did say on Friday that it is opening more sites for community testing.

“As part of Gov. Mike Parson’s plan announced on May 21 to rapidly increase COVID-19 testing volume to 7,500 tests per day in Missouri, six additional counties will host testing events,” according to the state’s release. “The goal is to test nearly 10,000 people over a 10-day period at events in Boone, Cape Girardeau, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson and St. Charles Counties.”

St. Francois County is not included, Elliott said, but neighboring Jefferson is.

There will be two testing sites: June 1-2, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Faith Community Church, House Springs; and June 3, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Hillsboro Civic Center, Hillsboro

“Any Missouri residents who wish to be tested with a nasal swab to see if they have an active COVID-19 infection can do so at the specified sites in each region at no cost to the individual,” the release said. “Missouri residency is the only requirement; individuals do not have to live in the county in which they are tested, and they do not have to be experiencing symptoms.”

Online pre-registration is highly encouraged. Those without access to online pre-registration can call the Missouri COVID-19 hotline for registration assistance at 877-435-8411.

Once Missouri’s overall testing numbers have increased, the state will reevaluate and determine next steps, the release said.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important testing is to our overall recovery plan. All four pillars of our recovery plan are important, but testing will be the key,” Parson said. “The more testing we do, the more knowledge we have on what the situation in Missouri actually looks like, and the better-equipped we are to move forward.”

Nikki Overfelt is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at noverfelt@dailyjournalonline.com.

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