Health Department alters quarantine guidelines

    The Phelps/Maries County Health Department has announced it is altering its quarantine guidelines after receiving new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Under the new guidelines, some quarantine times will be reduced from 14 to 10 days based on symptom monitoring and testing.

    In a statement released Monday, the department said it has taken the CDC’s guidance and will work with the public in determining the length of quarantine necessary. “The revised CDC guidelines state ‘Local health authorities determine and establish quarantine options for their jurisdictions. CDC currently recommends a quarantine period of 14 days. However, based on local circumstances and resources, the following options to shorten quarantine are acceptable alternatives.’ The CDC did not change quarantine guidance, but instead offered additional options for local public health authorities to implement, if appropriate in the local area,” the health department said.
    “The Phelps/Maries County Health Department recognizes the incredible burden that quarantine requirements place on individuals, families, and businesses. We must also recognize the CDC continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine period as the best option to control disease transmission and acknowledges that shortening quarantine periods to less than 14 days will result in a small, but non-zero increase in post-quarantine disease transmission,” the department explained.
    The statement adds COVID-19 symptoms can take 14 days after the last known exposure, some individuals take even longer to show symptoms, and any shorter isolation times could prove to increase the number of positive cases in the area. “During the course of the pandemic, our jurisdiction has seen a portion of individuals become symptomatic and test positive for COVID-19 on day 14 of their quarantine period. Any shorter deviation from the 14-day quarantine will result in individuals becoming positive for COVID-19 following release from quarantine. It is crucial strict mitigation strategies are adhered to through day 14,” the department said.
    After evaluating the information provided by the CDC, the department is revising its quarantine guidelines to reflect the 10-day option. “Understand that the alternative guidelines are not a one size fits all approach and there will be instances where a 14-day quarantine period will still be required,” the statement said.
    The health department will allow quarantines to end after day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been experienced during daily monitoring. A person can discontinue quarantine if they show no signs of symptoms throughout their quarantine period and they should continue to monitor for symptoms daily. If symptoms develop they should immediately get tested and self-isolate, avoiding contact with anyone at high risk until a full 14-day quarantine is completed.
    Under the CDC’s guidelines, an individual can end quarantine after seven days with a negative test result, but the Phelps-Maris County Health Department has chosen not to implement that alternative due to the demands of testing, resources needed, lack of testing sites, and the time necessary to get test results returned. The department will continue to monitor the situation and adjust as needed.
    According to the health department, as of Monday there were 573 active cases in Phelps County, with the total positive test up to 2,231 cases to date. Of the confirmed area cases, 2,102 have been released from isolation. There have been 59 deaths in Phelps County associated to COVID-19.
    Maries County currently has 65 active cases of COVID-19, with 490 confirmed total cases in the county. Of the total cases, 464 have been released from isolation. There have been seven deaths associated with COVID-19 in Maries County.
    To check current information, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) COVID dashboard is updated daily. The link to that website is:
    Numbers reported on the state dashboard on Monday included data through December 5. All seven-day metrics are based on the date a test or death occurred and are subject to a three-day delay to ensure data are accurate and complete. As a result, Monday’s numbers were for the date range of November 29 through December 5.
    According to the state dashboard, there have been 2,022 confirmed positive cases to date 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 have been 192 new cases reported in Phelps County over the seven-day date range. Phelps County is at 4,536 in cases per 100,000 population to date.
    Missouri as a state has a total of 328,206 confirmed cases to date as of December 5. The seven-day positive percent PCR tests are at 19.4 percent and there have been 4,355 confirmed deaths in the state associated with COVID-19. Over the seven-day date range, there have been 127,358 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 that residents not contact them via Facebook as there are too many comments 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 the spread of COVID-19.