Health Department returns services to curbside or appointment only as COVID cases rise

            The Phelps/Maries County Health Department announced last week all services the department will return to curbside or by appointment only. This will affect anyone coming to the facility for services, as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

            “Our main doors will be locked to the public and you will have to call the phone number posted to gain access,” the department said in a statement. WIC appointment will be conducted by phone call, and users will have to make an appointment to have eWIC cards loaded with benefits. Only one participant or proxy will be allowed to come to the appointment, due to the limiting of people entering the lobby.
            Birth and death certificates will also be offered for curbside pickup. Immunizations will be offered by appointment only or curbside if staffing is available. Anyone seeking immunizations are encouged to seek those services with the individuals primary care physician.
            STD and pregnancy testing are still being referred to Tri-Rivers Family Planning. Tempoary Pregnancy Medicaid will be done by appointment only.
            The department also said it is currently monitoring cases of COVID-19 at Maries R-2, Newburg, Rolla, St. James, Rolla Technical Center/East Central College, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology. “A public notice will not be made with each new case since we are able to identify all direct contacts to positive cases. The majority of school districts are publicly announcing and/or reporting the cases within their school districts. Our priority has been and will continue to be case investigation and contact tracing,” the department said.
            This news comes after two deaths associated with COVID-19 were confirmed last week and cases continue to rise. The department continues to urge residents to take precautions when out in public, maintaining social distancing efforts, wearing a mask when in public or where large groups are or where people interact.
    If a person is symptomatic, they are asked to remain isolated to help to the spread of the virus. The department also asks for assistance when conducting contact tracing, as a timelier investigation can better serve the public by identifying where a contact has been made.
            As of Monday, there are currently 60 active cases in Phelps County, along with 236 positive tests. Of the confirmed area cases, 174 have been released from isolation and nine from the hospital. Currently, there are no hospitalized cases in Phelps County.
    The number of active cases is up this week from 38 last Monday. Maries County currently has 14 active cases of COVID-19, with 50 confirmed cases in the county, up from 36 last Monday. There have been 36 released from isolation of those confirmed and three were released after hospitalization. One is still hospitalized.
            Over a two-week period, the rate of new cases per 100,000 population has been 147.55. The state page reports 210 cases of COVID-19 at the county level, but there has been variance in numbers reported between the state and county level due to reporting errors or cases not being updated yet. According to the state dashboard, Phelps County has seen a 27 percent increase in cases over the past seven days.
            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, 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.