Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to escalate over the weekend as the Pettis County Health Center reported a total of 177 positive cases on Monday along with the county’s second coronavirus-related death.
During a one-week time span, the number of confirmed cases rose 28.36%. Twenty-three new cases were reported over the weekend for a total of 49 active cases countywide.
According to the Pettis County COVID-19 Task Force briefing issued Monday afternoon, five residents of Pettis County are now hospitalized throughout the state and in other states. Since the briefing was released, a sixth individual was hospitalized, according to Health Center Administrator JoAnn Martin. At least four of these individuals are in intensive care. None of the individuals who are hospitalized are over the age of 60. Due to HIPAA requirements, Martin could not comment on specifics of the death other than to say the individual was hospitalized for only a brief period of time.
The county has administered 4,461 tests since it began this spring and 122 individuals have been returned to normal activity. There are 74 individuals under observation.
Health center officials were notified of three Illinois residents who became ill while working in Pettis County. Those individuals were tested in Pettis County but are not included in Pettis County statistics. Martin explained to the Democrat via email those three individuals have returned to Illinois.
Pettis County has seen an almost daily, steady increase in the number of confirmed cases since June 16, when all restrictions were lifted countywide. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Monday, a total of 27,890 confirmed cases have been reported statewide. A total of 1,083 Missouri residents have died from the disease.
“We are still struggling with people being honest with us about where they have been and who they have been in contact with,” Martin said Monday afternoon. “This is one of the few ways we have to try and stop the spread by getting people to stay home.”
Martin added most of the positive cases the health center is getting are now ill.
“There has been an increase in the time it is taking to get results back, so that means people who are positive may be out in the community,” Martin explained. “People who are getting tested are reporting symptoms so they need to stay home until the test results are returned.”
Monday’s briefing stated, “personal responsibility does not seem to be working.”
“If we are to slow the spread of this virus and continue to support our economy by allowing people to work, shop, attend religious services and get our children back into school, the only options left are everyone wearing a mask and social distancing,” health center officials commented in the briefing.
Individuals should not travel, particularly to hot spots, the briefing continued. Individuals with COVID-19 as well as close contacts must stay home. Leaving one’s home with a confirmed case or a contact is against state law, not just a recommendation or order by the Pettis County Health Center, according to the briefing.
According to CNN Health, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on Sunday urged people to wear face coverings, saying they will promote freedom during the coronavirus pandemic.
The report states Adams pushed back on the idea that face coverings infringe on freedoms, saying they're important to slow the spread of the coronavirus and reopen the economy.
"Some feel face coverings infringe on their freedom of choice- but if more wear them, we'll have MORE freedom to go out," Adams wrote in a tweet Sunday morning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April recommended masks be worn as a way to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in public places where it is difficult to maintain a 6-foot boundary between individuals.
“We have learned a great deal about the coronavirus in the past six months,” Martin said. “Some of the early information has now been proven to not be correct.”
Martin explained early guidance from the CDC about not wearing masks was primarily focused on preserving masks for health care workers who were in close contact with known cases.
“There were fewer cases back then,'' Martin said. “Now we are experiencing an explosion of cases and there is a much greater likelihood that someone will come in contact with the virus than back in March when there were very few cases, particularly in Pettis County.
“Now masks, social distancing, hand washing and staying home if you are sick are the only way we can slow down the spread,” she added. “We want to have our children return to school safely in less than two months. Masks allow people to move about more freely, do not disrupt business activities and are available free in a variety of places in the community.”