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UPDATED: SFCHC: COVID-19 cases up to 11
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UPDATED: SFCHC: COVID-19 cases up to 11

Health Center prepares for coronavirus

The St. Francois County Health Center reported on Wednesday night that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in county residents has risen to 11.

There were five confirmed cases on Monday.

“We expect bigger jumps down the road,” Health Center Director Elliott said. “It’s going to go up from here. We certainly have not peaked in Missouri, so we are going to continue to see more cases.”

Here’s what we know about the 11 cases, according to the health center’s reports:

Nine of the confirmed cases are women; two are men. This includes, one person under 20, one in their 20s, two in their 30s, three in their 40s, two in their 50s, and two in their 70s.

Four cases remain under investigation. Three cases have had no known contact with someone who is positive for the virus.

“We do think there are cases that are going undetected,” Elliott said. “Usually the product of that, when they are cases that are undetected, we end up with cases we don’t know where the source came from, which points to community spread. So we are concerned about that at this time.”

The health department is continuing their epidemiological investigations into all the cases.

Four are contacts to other confirmed cases. Three of the women are healthcare workers who work outside of St. Francois County. And one woman was in close contact with two out-of-state people at a March 14 wedding in Bonne Terre who later tested positive for the virus.

Four people have required hospitalization at some point during their illness. And zero have fully recovered, which is defined as at least seven days past the onset of symptoms and recovered from the illness for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

When asked where they go from here, Elliott said part of the next step is the countywide stay-at-home order that will go into effect on Friday. This requires people to stay at home except for essential needs or where exempted in the order.

UPDATED: SFC enacts stay-at-home order

According to Elliott, the intent of the order is to ensure the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible to slow the spread of the virus, to preserve healthcare resources, and to protect the most vulnerable.

“We need the community to work together,” Elliott said. “We all play a part in this. This cannot be on any one agency or anyone person. It’s on everyone.”

The other part of the next step, Elliott said, is a statewide order, which the health center is in favor of. In the absence of that, it has to be done county by county.

“Most of the professional medical organizations in the state have advocated for a statewide order,” Elliott said. “But that has not come into fruition at this time … A statewide order would be helpful for us to all be moving and speaking with the same voice.”

Elliott said she does understand the economic concerns behind a statewide order. Most people get their health insurance through their employer, she said, so people do need to be able to go to work.

“An economic crises is a healthcare crises and inversely the same,” Elliott said. “… There is a line and a balance here between public health and the business side of things. It’s not an easy decision, believe me. I don’t envy the governor’s position. It’s a hard place to be.”

Ste. Genevieve County now has six confirmed cases, according to an update on the health department's Facebook page early Wednesday afternoon.

"These test results were expected as they are close family members to the original two positive cases," the health department posted. "All have been quarantined since the first two cases were identified. All contacts have been notified by the health department."

Neighboring Jefferson County has 39 cases as of Tuesday, according to its health department; Perry County has 18.

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

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