Wash your hands, wear a mask says Cooper County health director as COVID-19 cases spike

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Cooper County Public Health Center Director Melanie Hutton said it’s even more important now that every member of the community continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention basic hygiene preventative measures.

The health center continues nearly daily testing and averages upward of 40 new cases per week in the county, Hutton said. Total cases as of Tuesday were 957, with 124 active. 

A majority of the total cases Tuesday — 811 — are from Cooper County residents, while 146 are Boonville Correctional Center offenders. COVID-19 has affected 76 nursing home or assisted living residents. There are five hospitalizations. 

Testing at the health center is done by appointment only, so residents must call to schedule. Resident should call 660-882-2626 to speak with a staff member to be scheduled for testing.

Reporting this week did not include information from Wednesday due to the Veterans Day holiday.

Both MU Health Care and Boone Hospital Center are offering drive-thru testing.

MU Health Care offers the testing with physician orders. Those with mild symptoms, assessed via a health-care provider at a clinic or a video visit can received a test.

Testing will open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the MU softball stadium parking lot. MU Health Care is now offering free video visits to assess for COVID-19. Patients should visit MUHealthVideoVisits.org and select the “COVID-19” video option.

From reporting by the health center between Oct. 28 and Tuesday, the county saw its total case number increase by about 130. October's case numbers were 55% higher than September's, Hutton said. 

“Each week we are increasing and beating the week before,” she said. “We’ve shared on Facebook and on our web site with graphs, and I redid the school report so the schools can see week-to-week numbers instead of cumulative."

The health center has brought on more staff because of the jump in numbers believed to be connected to Halloween and the election.

"You had Halloween parties and then the election. People just aren’t taking precautions," Hutton said. "There is still a huge resistance to mask [usage], and you’ll hear some people say 'I wear a mask and I got it anyway.' And then you have some people who will be like I’m not testing my family.”

Four more Cooper County COVID-related deaths were reported Tuesday, bringing the county's total to six. Those who died were older than 60 and the center is waiting to determine if two more deaths were from COVID-19-related complications. 

Cases from residents in the Boonville School District currently are counted at 78 cases within a six day period from November 5-10. Pilot Grove currently has 17 cases, followed by Bunceton and Otterville School Districts with nine each, Prairie Home with five and Blackwater School District with three.

Out of county school district currently have nine cases, which means the resident lives in Cooper County but goes to another school district in a neighboring county. 

The cases within school boundaries refers to all residents within the boundary, and does not necessarily reflect school student and staff cases. 

While a vaccine to COVID-19 may be available by the end of the year or early next year, it likely will not have widespread distribution until the spring, Hutton said. It will go first to health care providers, first responders and nursing home patients. 

“We might have more vaccines by April, and then it will be heavily administered like the flu,” Hutton said. “People need to understand that because this virus can mutate, the vaccine is not going to be the same. We have new vaccines for the flu each year and that’s why people build up some immunity. We’re going to see new strains from COVID-19, so there’s not going to be this vaccine cure like polio.”

This is why it’s important to follow the CDC basic hygiene preventative measures, which include avoiding contact with people who are sick, wearing a mask, covering coughs and sneezes, proper handwashing, cleaning frequently used surfaces, and staying home when sick, she said.

Those who believe they have COVID-19 symptoms, should call the COVID-19 hotline at 877-435-8411 before going to an emergency room or doctor's office. Those without a local health care provider, should call the health center at 660-882-2626, where staff can help the caller locate a provider..