CCPHC gives example of how events like Pilot Grove Rodeo can spread the disease

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

Cooper County Public Health Center Administrator Melanie Hutton wanted to clarify why she used the Pilot Grove rodeo as an example on Facebook Thursday as a COVID-19 spreader.

With 1,000 of people flocking to the two-day event, Hutton said she used the post as an example of how the disease spreads.

Although Cooper County is in a unique situation, Hutton said in the post that the small community of Pilot Grove carried out a large annual event. The event made modifications to help reduce the contact among attendees.

“The COVID positive cases in the graph only have Pilot Grove addresses and [none said they] attended the rodeo,” Hutton wrote in the post. “However, you can clearly see the spike within 14 days and 28 days of the rodeo. There were also three COVID-related deaths in this small community.”

Two of those deaths occurred within that curve period. This doesn't mean those patients attended the rodeo. This means there are people who are not being tested, Hutton said.

“They may or may not have had symptoms and they continue to do life as normal and spread,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you had to go to the rodeo and get it. It means that an event enhances the spread to the community.”

The data shows continual cases after the four-week spike and its impact on a private community event, he said. What is not shown is the number of COVID carriers who continue to spread the virus. 

“People who do not receive testing, do so for a variety of reasons,” Hutton said. “The Pilot Grove community has been affected deeply by the COVID virus.”

The data showed how the virus' spread can go up and down in relation to an event.

The data's intention was not meant to shame Pilot Grove or its rodeo, Hutton said. It was just meant to show that after any event, regardless of location or type, there can be an increase of COVID-19 cases in the 14 days afterward.

“There was another event that we believe helped aid in that next events curve,” Hutton said. “It wasn’t anything intended to be negative, it’s just showing it at a local stance. People were then like, why don’t you use Boonville?"

Since Boonville has a larger population, a post event case spike is not as illustrative as in a smaller population.

"That was just a good example of here’s how the incubation period works," Hutton said. "You can see it increase and drop down after an event. There was no criticism there, it just shows the disease there. It’s a clear picture of a spreading event.”

The graph showed what a spreader looks like as public health restrictions are relaxed. Cases were extremely low during regional stay-at-home orders, but when things started opening back up larger events, virus spread started to increase, Hutton said. 

It was just measurable in this little down, she said. And then you had a national rodeo and people coming for points there.

The rodeo was a major event and gave the perfect picture of what scientists and doctors are talking about on TV. 

While the health center serves all of the county, community specific data was released in the days after the Pilot Grove post. Each town may or may not have a specific event to show the link.

“This was just an education opportunity to show locally how disease transmission matches what the experts on TV are talking about,” Hutton said. “It’s real life, it’s us, and it isn’t fake. It sadly happened in Pilot Grove. It could have happened anywhere.”

CCPHC changes from daily to weekly data

The Cooper County Public Health Center also changed the way in which they have published numbers from the county, going from daily to weekly releases. Hutton said they did that at the request of the schools that weekly data would be more helpful than daily data on that one report. 

CCPHC release numbers from two-day flu clinic

The two-day flu clinic at Rolling Hills park was deemed a success with over 140 people taking advantage of getting their flu shots in a timely manner.

Hutton said 84 people got their shots on Thursday while 63 took advantage of the free clinic on Friday for a total of 147.

“We were less than what we’ve had in the past but we expected that because we have encouraged people to get the vaccine wherever they can,” Hutton said. “Do not wait for us. In order for us to do this there, we had to stop doing kid’s shots and just schedule flu shots." 

CCPHC releases notice on private 5th grade football team

A private fifth-grade football team, the Eagles, had a player test positive Friday.

The health center talked with the parent of the child and the league commissioner, but has been unable to obtain a list of players or parent’s names with contact information.

The parents declined to share information with the health center the commissioner told Hutton. So, the health center issued the Friday notice since it does not know which schools potentially are impacted. 

“We have been told that the team will continue to play and have notified future opposing teams,” Hutton said. “If you are a parent of a player on the Eagles team, please contact the Cooper County Public Health Center for more information.”

As of Oct. 1, 16 school-age children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the county, with 13 of those since Oct. 12. 

“I think everybody was upset about the football team but no one is upset that we’ve had 13 school age kids this week and 16 for the month [with the virus],” Hutton said. “I think there was just some miscommunication among the affected party and the coach" 

The team had played in the morning, but the player started exhibiting symptoms that evening. We can't count that he was not contagious during that time period, Hutton said. 

"I don’t think it was transferred on but when they don’t want to give their information, we can’t work with the schools," she said. "You know that the kids aren’t going to school together. We don’t know where they’re at so that’s why we had to do a public notice.”

Liz Coon, a worker for the Cooper County Public Health Center, administers a shot to Candy Sorrell Friday during the free flu clinic at Rolling Hills park.