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Residents need to stay vigilant
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Residents need to stay vigilant

Health Center prepares for coronavirus

Cases of COVID-19 to appear to be slowing down, but St. Francois County Health Center Director Amber Elliott says now is the time to stay vigilant.

There is one confirmed active case of the virus in the county right now, bringing the total to 34.

“There are probably more active cases in the community,” Elliott said during her Facebook Live update on Thursday. “So we’ve got to be really careful not to be complacent in feeling like, ‘OK, the virus is gone; we don’t need to worry about it anymore’ because that’s just not the case.

No new cases were reported last week, and just one case has been reported so far this week. And emergency room data also points to the virus slowing down, according to Elliott.

But she warned that there are likely cases out there that haven’t been tested. The virus is still here, she said, and the St. Louis area is still seeing community spread. With the state starting to open back up, more travelling is happening.

“We expect that we are going to see more cases,” Elliott said. “Again, the virus isn’t going to just disappear without a vaccine and that’s probably a long way off.”

She said the health center is aware of more than 1,300 residents whio have tested, which is 100 more than on Wednesday.

“That’s all pointing in the direction that we are testing more and more people,” Elliott said. “And when we test more and more people, we are going to identify cases and we want to identify cases, so we can do our job of isolating and quarantining case contacts.”

Elliott said it’s important to be cognizant and to stay informed. People need to be prepared for a possible surge in the fall, she said, as the virus could be cyclical like other communicable diseases.

“That’s not to live in a place of fear or in panic,” she added. "That’s just live in a place of being informed and taking those measures to prevent infection as much as we can, while still understanding that our economy is reopening and businesses are reopening and we are trying to head back to some version of normal life. But again doing that in a way that is strategic and informed and really using those preventive aspects.”

Those preventive measures that Elliott recommends to prevent infection are hand washing, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and wearing a mask in public, especially when it’s hard to maintain social distancing.

“When you wear a mask, you protect other people,” she added. “When other people wear a mask, they’re protecting you.”

Elliott did answer a question about the recent slight update the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made about the virus not spreading easily through touching contaminated surfaces.

According to the CDC, she said, the primary way it is transmitted is through respiratory droplets through the air.

“It still goes on to say that it is thought that this can also be spread by touching surfaces that have been infected with this virus or where that’s landed from those respiratory droplets,” Elliott said. “Their disinfection recommendations have not changed and that’s up on their website. So I know that’s maybe to a lesser degree, but the primary way is through respiratory droplets.”

Elliott also stressed the importance of keeping up with immunizations during her update. She said the health center is still doing immunizations by appointment right now. It’s likely that they will continue to do appointments only throughout the summer, so she encouraged residents not to wait until August to do back-to-school immunizations.

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

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