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UPDATED: SFCHC confirms third case
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UPDATED: SFCHC confirms third case

Health Center prepares for coronavirus

St. Francois County Health Center is preparing for cases of coronavirus here. 

St. Francois County Health Center Director Amber Elliott confirmed Wednesday afternoon that there is a third case of coronavirus in the county.

The case is connected to the wedding that was held March 14 in Bonne Terre at Heritage Hall. The patient is a female in her 40s.

The health center has started its epidemiologic investigation.

Elliott said the woman did have direct contact with the two people from out-of-state who tested positive for the virus.

There are still more tests pending from other attendees of the wedding, according to Elliott.

“I think there is a possibility that we will see more positives from this situation in Bonne Terre,” Elliott said.

The first two confirmed cases in the county are healthcare workers who work outside of St. Francois County, but those cases are not related to each other, Elliott said. One woman is her 20s and the other woman is in her 30s.

Elliott said she has been in contact with county and city leaders about a possible shelter-in-place order.

“We are strongly considering that,” Elliott said. “The thing about a shelter-in-place, it does exclude essential services and essential functions of the community. So it’s not like a Christmas Day where everything is closed. People are still able to get groceries and get their medicines from the pharmacy that they need.”

She said there are more discussions to take place now that the county has three confirmed cases.

“This is not something that one agency should be deciding,” Elliott said. “This is a collaborative effort between the health department, our county leadership, and our city municipalities. We want to do what’s best for our community and we want to make sure to support those that would be affected.”

Some of the factors to consider, according to Elliott, are number of cases and how they are being spread.

“Also remembering that, with emerging infectious diseases, where you are today is actually not where you are at,” Elliott said. “You’re actually a few days ahead of now. You just don’t have the data to support that. On Saturday, we had no cases, and it’s Wednesday and we have three. Is it a huge jump? No, but we are going to continue to see more cases.”

Neighboring Perry County now has three confirmed cases, according to its health center, and has adopted a shelter-in-place order that will go into effect Thursday.

Bollinger County Health Center also announced its first confirmed case on Wednesday.

From what Elliott has been hearing, the outbreak will likely peak or be at its worst in mid-to-late April.

“But again these are predictions,” Elliott added.

Elliott also wanted to remind the community that giving blood and working with and volunteering for blood banking agencies is considered an essential service right now and helps ensured the continued availability of life-sustaining blood products.

In other SFCHC news, the health center WIC has switched over to remote appointments, according to a release from Coordinator Cate Reando. They have made the transition to doing all of their appointments over the phone and having families pick up their benefits through curbside pickup.

The staff will contact the participants 1-2 days before their appointment to gather all necessary information. When families arrive for their appointment, they can call the office, and the staff will take the benefits out to them.

For further information or questions, families are welcome to call the St. Francois County Health Center WIC office at 573-431-1947.

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

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