Health department sees spike in Maries County

    The Phelps/Maries Health Department reported last week there has been a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in Maries County, particularly near Vienna. Overall active cases continue to rise in both Phelps and Maries counties over the past week.


    “From October 15 to October 22, 2020, Maries County has had an increase of 56 cases, or 643.9 cases per 100,000 population. To put that figure into perspective, the national rate per 100k population for the same time period was 129.5 cases, Missouri was 198.8 cases, and Phelps County was 179.48 cases,” the health department said.
    “The Maries County R-1 School District has closed to in-person learning due to an increase of COVID-19 cases amongst staff and student body. Between October 17 and October 22, 2020, 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were identified within the school building. Of those 16 cases, 11 are students and five are staff members,” the department said. “A tentative reopen date is set for Monday, November 2, 2020.” The department added it will be working with school administration, monitoring the “prevalence of COVID-19 within the community as well as the cases that would impact the school to determine a reopen plan.”
    The health department said it will take efforts within the community to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the area and they encourage students not to gather together during normal school hours or spend time at another’s households while school is shut down. “We understand where this cannot be avoided—childcare while parents work, custody arrangements, etc. These arrangements should be consistent with the understanding that any movement from one household to another increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19 from someone outside your normal household,” the department said.
    According to the health department, on Monday there were 142 active cases in Phelps County, up from the 108 reported on Tuesday, October 19.  Total positive cases continue to increase county-wide, now up to 883.
    Of the confirmed area cases, 790 have been released from isolation and 42 from the hospital. There are currently 11 cases requiring hospitalization. There have also been 15,056 negative tests so far. Deaths associated with COVID-19 has risen to 24 in Phelps County.
    Maries County currently has 51 active cases of COVID-19, with 211 confirmed total cases in the county. There have been 174 released from isolation of those confirmed and seven have been released from the hospital. There are also two cases in Maries County requiring hospitalization. There have been 1,626 negative tests in Maries County.
    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: showmestrong.mo.gov.
    According to the state dashboard, there have been 838 confirmed positive cases in Phelps County. The discrepancy could be associated with cases not yet reported to the state, false positives which have been changed, changes to the new dashboard, or errors in reporting. According to the dashboard, there has been 70 new cases reported in Phelps County over the past seven days. Phelps County is at 1,880 in cases per 100,000 population to date.
    Missouri as a state has a total of 172,717 confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning. The seven-day positive percent PCR tests are at 22.9 percent and there have been 2,839 confirmed deaths in the state associated with COVID-19. Over the past seven days, there have been 11,768 new confirmed cases.
    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.