Phelps County sees big spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases

The Phelps/Maries Health Department reported 44 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the last week, with the total number of cases jumping from 98 on August 10 to 142 confirmed cases on August 17.

            The health department urges the community to take precautions and, if a person is tested for COVID-19, to make sure the current contact information is given.

            “The health department is requesting that anyone that is being tested for COVID-19 to make sure to provide the current contact information (phone number and address) to ensure that we are able to contact you as soon as possible if your test is positive,” the department said. “Unfortunately, we are encountering situations where the contact information on the lab report is incorrect or altogether missing. Attempting to obtain current contact information from the healthcare provider and/or lab is proving to be time consuming and often times the information is not available.”

            “Please call us at 573-458-6010 if you receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and have not been contacted by health department staff within 24 hours,” the department stated. Phelps County saw a big jump in cases, up 23 in four days and 44 total new cases for the week. “We are seeing entire households become positive during their quarantine periods. Several cases are reporting unknown exposure location with no recent travel history or contact with known positive cases. These cases are presumed community transmission,” the department reported.

            “It is best to assume that every location you visit is a location of potential exposure and take the appropriate precautions to protect yourself, your family, and your community. It is critical that each and every one of us continues to practice preventative measures to help keep the spread of communicable diseases to a minimum. It is the utmost importance that any individual experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 isolate from others,” the department stated.

            As of Monday, out of the total of 142 confirmed total cases, there are currently 42 active cases in Phelps County. Of the confirmed area cases, 100 have been released from isolation and three from the hospital. One other was still hospitalized as of Monday afternoon. Maries County currently has six positive COVID-19 cases, with 31 confirmed cases in the county, up from 24 last Monday. There have been 25 released from isolation of those confirmed and two were released after hospitalization. One other is still hospitalized.

            The health department said it has received several questions regarding case counts and incoming Missouri S&T students. It said those students would be reported in the county cases for positive COVID-19 cases due to the fact communicable diseases are tracked based on permanent residence. “If an individual is physically residing in our area for an extended period of time (attending college, residential living facility, long-term care facility, incarcerated, etc.) the physical location of the individual is used to determine jurisdictional control of the communicable disease case,” the department explained.

            To check current information, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) COVID dashboard is updated daily at 2 p.m. The link to that website is:…

            With each case, the health department works with the DHSS to investigate to identify any individual that may have come in close contact with the positive individual to monitor them for symptoms and assist in the containment of the virus. Any close contacts identified by a positive case within the county will be contacted privately by the health department.

            Primary symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, cough, and shortness of breath. Other possible symptoms include body aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell. The health department reported there are a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe illness, with some not experiencing any symptoms at all during their illness.

            The health department asks that anyone who develops symptoms contact their physician and seek testing and to isolate themselves until testing results are known.

            For general information and questions regarding the Coronavirus, contact the Missouri DHSS hotline at 877-435-8411. The Phelps-Maries County Health Department can be reached by calling 573-458-6010. The department requests residents not contact them via Facebook as there are too many comment made and someone could be missed.

            The health department urges the public to take appropriate precautions, including social distancing, wearing masks when six feet of distance can’t be maintained, limiting in-person interactions, avoiding contact with people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, proper handwashing, cleaning frequently used surfaces, and staying home when sick, to help contain he spread of COVID-19.