UPDATED: SFCHC continues to investigate exposure at wedding at Heritage Hall
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UPDATED: SFCHC continues to investigate exposure at wedding at Heritage Hall

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Health Center prepares for coronavirus

11:30 a.m. SATURDAY UPDATE: The St. Francois County Health Center is asking anyone who attended a wedding at Heritage Hall in Bonne Terre on March 14 to self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

Health Center Director, Amber Elliott reports, “We have worked through much of Friday night, but have had difficulty obtaining a full list with contact information. It is also possible that there were people in attendance that were not listed.”

Elliott continued, “Because this was a large event, it is difficult to know exactly who were close contacts to the confirmed cases that evening. Close contacts are anyone who was within six feet of a confirmed case for at least 15-30 minutes.”

As previously reported, two attendees who reside outside the state of Missouri tested positive for COVID-19. They were symptomatic while attending the event. The health center now states they can confirm that the confirmed cases did not visit any other place in St. Francois County.

All attendees should self-quarantine through March 28, 2020. Any attendee who develops fever greater than 100.4 or a cough should call their healthcare provider to be tested. If an attendee develops shortness of breath or becomes urgently ill, they should call their local hospital before arriving.

“The family has stated they have received threats from members of the public. It is a very unfortunate event; however, threatening people won’t help and may even discourage people who are symptomatic from coming forward for testing,” Elliott said.

The Health Center wants to reiterate the importance of following the White House Coronavirus Task Force "15 Days to Slow the Spread”

• Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.

• If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.

• If your children are sick, keep them at home. Contact your medical provider.

• If someone in your household has tested positive for the Coronavirus, keep the entire household at home.

• If you are of older age, stay home and away from other people.

• If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition — such as a significant heart or lung problem — stay home and away from other people.

• Avoid social gatherings over 10.

• Work from home whenever possible.

• Avoid discretionary travel.

• Avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts; try to use drive-thrus, delivery or pick-up options.

• Do not visit nursing homes, retirement homes, or long-term care facilities unless it’s to provide critical-care access, in which case, use precaution.

• Continue practicing good hygiene and sanitizing frequently used items and surfaces and continue washing your hands.

"We understand this is a challenging and stressful time to navigate, but working together, we can do our best to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on our community."

ORIGINAL STORY: The St. Francois County Health Center is investigating a possible COVID-19 exposure at a large gathering in Bonne Terre on Saturday, according to a release from Director Amber Elliott. 

Two attendees who reside outside the state of Missouri have tested positive for COVID-19, the release said. They were symptomatic while attending the event.

The health center is working with the event organizer to identify and contact all of those who attended the event. There were about 200 people who attended the event, including from St. Francois County and other jurisdictions. 

The health center confirmed Friday night that the event was a wedding and the investigation will continue through the weekend. All attendees of the event will be quarantined through March 28, the release said. 

Any attendee who develops fever greater than 100.4 or a cough will be instructed to call their healthcare provider to be tested. If an attendee develops shortness of breath or becomes urgently ill, they should call their local hospital before arriving.

North County Superintendent Dr. Jeff Levy said he had heard of the event, and that a couple of guests from out of state had tested positive.

Bonne Terre is one of the two larger towns under the North County School District umbrella, with hundreds of students and employees. He said he had been in touch with St. Francois County Health Center, the center is taking the lead and will keep him updated as to how far communication would need to go.

"I've already been on the phone with Amber (Elliott, director of SFCHC) twice today," he said. "We are taking this very, very seriously. They're going to take the lead and they're going to facilitate conversations with anyone who went, and they're going to tell us how far communication would need to go, if there was any need.

"I asked if there's anything we need to be aware of or worry about, and she said not right now. Obviously, the health department is working really hard to make sure they know exactly what's going on."

This is a developing story and the health center will provide more information as it becomes available.

Meanwhile, two more Missourians died from the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported Friday.

St. Louis County officials said a woman in her 60s, who suffered from multiple health problems prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19, died at a hospital. Officials don't yet know if she had traveled or how she became exposed to the virus.

Earlier Friday, on the other side of the state, Jackson County officials said a woman in her 80s died. She had not recently traveled, raising concerns about community spread, which is when experts can't figure out how a person caught the disease.

The deaths were the second and third in Missouri, following the death of a Boone County resident in their 60s announced Wednesday.

The total number of confirmed cases in Missouri rose to 47 by the state's count, up from 28 a day earlier. But that didn't include five new cases announced in Kansas City, as well as new cases in St. Charles County and Cole County, bringing the unofficial total to 54. The jump was largely attributable to private lab test results being reported to the state.

Among the new cases is a Missouri legislator. House leaders, in a statement, did not identify the lawmaker or offer details about their condition but said efforts are underway to notify House members and staff who may have had contact.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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