Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in St. Francois County have almost doubled over the last month with most of those cases coming from the community, not the Department of Corrections outbreaks, according to Health Center Director Amber Elliott.
And that is concerning, she said on Friday, but a stay-at-home order or other mandates or restrictions are not the focus at this time. That decision would come from both the Health Center and county commissioners.
“I will say that the reaction to stay at home orders in the past does concern me,” Elliott said. “The political climate concerns me because it needs to be supported.”
She said the community needs to work together to follow public health measures like wearing masks and social distancing.
“Those recommendations have been in place for several months now,” Elliott added, “and they're going to continue to be in place until we have a viable treatment or vaccine. And we're probably a little bit off from that.”
The health center reported 14 new cases on Friday. There are 62 active cases, 22 of which are associated with the DOC outbreaks.
Of the 295 total cases, 159 are DOC-related.
Parkland Health Center Medical Director Dr. Scott Kirkley said the hospital continues to see a significant amount of positive rates coming through their clinics, but they haven’t see a large uptake over the last week in hospital admissions related to the virus.
“It feels a little bit like the rumbling before the storm for the hospital,” he added.
Hospitalization and death rates tend to lag a few weeks behind, he said, so the area is still very much in a wait-and-see kind of pattern.
“Without significant changes in behavior of people in the community-- involving avoiding large gatherings or flat-out canceling large gatherings, social distancing in those areas where you have to be out, wearing masks, and practicing good hand hygiene-- I think that we're going to continue to see a rise,” Kirkley said.
He noted that Texas is starting to see their numbers decline about two weeks and a half weeks after 20 counties mandated mask-wearing.
Most of the patients he said he’s seeing right now are seeming to take the virus seriously, believing in the science, and realizing that these are the right things to do.
“So I'm hopeful that you will start to see at least a flattening or a drop in the curve as we head into August,” Kirkley said. “But I think that, again, continued behavioral changes will have to be not just started and continued, but persistent until the point we have viable treatments or vaccinations or both.”
The Ste. Genevieve County Health Department reported three new cases, bringing its total to 44 and three active cases.
Iron County reported two new cases. The county now has 12 total cases and eight active cases.
Nikki Overfelt is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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