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Missouri added to 'red zone'
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Missouri added to 'red zone'

Health Center prepares for coronavirus

The St. Francois County Health Department reported five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department reported two.

St. Francois County now has 49 active cases, 15 of which are associated with the two Department of Corrections outbreaks, and 273 total cases, 147 of which are tied to the prison outbreaks.

Ste. Genevieve County has 41 total cases and four active cases.

According to the Associated Press, Missouri has seen a big surge in confirmed coronavirus cases this month — so much so that a new federal report lists Missouri as among 21 states in the “red zone” for the outbreak. Those states are reporting more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people.

As cases continue to rise in the area and the state, many people are pinning their hopes on an effective vaccine being developed soon.

This week it was announced that Moderna and Pfizer are both beginning late-stage vaccine trials.

When it comes to who to trust regarding vaccine developments, Parkland Health Center Medical Director Dr. Scott Kirkley looks to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force.

Kirkley said Fauci writes the infectious disease portion of what is considered to be the “Bible of Internal Medicine” for doctors, Harrison’s Principals of Internal Medicine. That’s what he tells his patients regarding the respectability of Fauci.

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“For me to not listen to his advice or not listen to his predictions on this would probably be out of character for someone who does the same work,” Kirkley said last Friday.

Fauci has said that a vaccine could be available for administration as early as the end of this year.

“I don't believe that he says things like that with just to the point to give people optimistic hope,” Kirkley added. “I think he understands that it's complicated, but that he's probably seen some data that suggests some of the early vaccine results are more promising than they considered they would be.”

Kirkley did mention that Fauci said on Friday that it could be early 2021 before one is widely available.

“I don't think it's him hedging his bets,” he added. “I think what he's trying to say is it's complicated.”

Even if a vaccine was available today, Kirkley said, it could take a full year to vaccinate 300-400 million Americans.

“So regardless of when the vaccine comes out, this isn't over,” he explained. “So we’ve still got a long way to go. And so the practice that we get now in practicing good social distancing and wearing our masks when we leave our homes are good techniques that we need to know for a long time as we try to battle this.”

Kirkley is optimistic that a vaccine will be available, but he believes an effective treatment will be come first, which he said is not any of the current drugs that are available.

“I don’t believe hydroxychloroquine or remdesivir or any of the other drugs are the answer for this virus,” he said.

Nikki Overfelt is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at

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