After spending a week at the red level on the Jefferson County Health Department’s four-color COVID-19 warning system, the agency announced today (Sept. 15) it had moved the county back to the orange alert level.
Orange is the second highest level on the system and indicates widespread but controlled transmission of the virus.
On Sept. 8, the Health Department had placed the county on the red level – the highest level, which indicates widespread and uncontrolled transmission of the virus.
The four-color warning system was devised on Aug. 12, and the county had been at the orange level from that date until Sept. 8.
Health Department officials said the main indicator used to determine the color level is the seven-day rolling average of cases per day/per 100,000 residents. The red level indicates the county, which has a population of about 225,000, is seeing 25 or more cases per 100,000 people per day.
When the county was moved into the red level, the rolling average was 25.46 cases per 100,000 people per day. As of Sept. 12, the county’s rolling average had decreased to 21.59, so the county was moved to the orange level, Health Department Director Kelley Vollmar said today.
“I am cautiously optimistic as we are moving back into the orange level of community transmission, and that’s a good thing,” she said. “The reason I’m cautiously optimistic is we are just coming off a holiday weekend. We need to make sure we’re keeping an eye on those numbers, but it is encouraging going back into the orange status.”
Vollmar said it's hard to attribute the decrease to one thing.
“What we're seeing is likely what's working in the community,” she said.
Vollmar said schools have been “diligent” about following guidelines and many businesses have started to step up and follow recommendations to curb the spread of the virus.
“My hope is that we will continue to see this trend move down,” she said.
While the move to orange means the county’s cases have been increasing at a lower rate as of late, health officials still urge residents to avoid crowds, practice social distancing, wear masks in public and take steps to limit the spread of the disease.
The Health Department reported 60 new COVID-19 cases in the county today, including one at long-term care facilities.
That brings the total number of cases in the county to 3,579 cases since the first ones were reported in March.
Those cases are through midnight Monday (Sept. 14).
Of the total cases in the county, 840 are open, or active, ones, according to the Health Department.
Active cases are the number of positive cases excluding COVID-19 deaths and those patients who have been released from isolation.
The county has had a total of 52 deaths since the pandemic began, and 2,675 cases have been released from isolation, which means the patients recovered enough to be released from case management.
Another 12 cases are under investigation, the Health Department reported.
Of the total cases in the county, 3,285 are lab confirmed and 294 cases are probable, the Health Department reported.
A total of 3,429 county residents were tested for COVID-19 over the past week, and 371 were positive and 3,058 were negative. That translates to a 10.8 percent positivity rate, which is down from the previous week, according to the Health Department.
As of Sept. 5 (the most recent data available), 216 Jefferson County residents had been hospitalized for COVID-19 in a Mercy or BJC facility. Data from SSM is not available.
The Health Department reported today that 35 of the county’s total cases were contracted through travel, 1,298 were transmitted through contact with someone with the virus, and it’s unknown how 2,246 of the cases were contracted.
According to the Health Department, 1,590 of the county’s coronavirus cases have been men, 1,928 cases have been women and 61 are unknown.
The confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county include 128 people younger than nine, 340 people 10 to 19 years old, 625 people 20-29 years old, 501 people 30-39 years old, 560 people 40-49 years old, 548 people 50-59 years old, 392 people 60-69 years old, 265 people 70-79 years old, 213 people in their 80s or older and seven unknown.
The Health Department also reported that cases in the county have been reported for the following ZIP codes: 625 cases and 322 recovered cases in 63010 (Arnold), 180 cases and 101 recovered cases in 63012 (Barnhart), 111 cases and 69 recovered cases in 63016 (Cedar Hill), 89 cases and 57 recovered cases in 63019 (Crystal City), 294 cases and 148 recovered cases in 63020 (De Soto), 40 cases and 23 recovered case in 63023 (Dittmer), 44 cases and 20 recovered cases in 63025 (Eureka), 304 cases and 202 recovered cases in 63026 (Fenton), 534 cases and 355 recovered cases in 63028 (Festus), one case and zero recovered in 63030 (Fletcher), one case and one recovered case in 63047 (Hematite), 67 cases and 28 recovered in 63048 (Herculaneum), 214 cases and 145 recovered cases in 63049 (High Ridge), 248 cases and 162 recovered cases in 63050 (Hillsboro), 186 cases and 116 recovered cases in 63051 (House Springs), 477 cases and 310 recovered cases in 63052 (Imperial), three cases and two recovered in 63057 (Liguori), one case and one recovered cases in 63065 (Mapaville), 14 cases and seven recovered case in 63069 (Pacific) and 99 cases and 64 recovered cases in 63070 (Pevely). Another 47 cases do not have ZIP code information.
The Health Department also reported today that it has monitored a total of 3,630 cases, and of those, 797 are still actively quarantined and another 2,833 have been released from quarantine.
Brianne Zwiener, Health Department communications specialist, said a person who is being actively monitored has been in contact with a positive case, but is not showing symptoms.
She said people who are actively monitored are quarantined to their homes and must take their temperature twice a day for 14 days.
Long-term care facilities
Of the county’s total coronavirus cases, 532 have been at long-term care facilities, which includes residents and staff members who live inside Jefferson County.
The county has had at least 18 COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities, the Health Department reported.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) defines an outbreak as one or more residents testing positive for the virus or one or more staff members who have worked within a facility in the 14 days before testing positive.
Of the county’s 52 COVID-19 deaths, 40 have been in long term-care facilities, the Health Department reported.
The Health Department also reported that of the total number of cases at long-term care facilities, 188 are active ones, 303 have been released from isolation, and one case was is under investigation. Residents in long-term care facilities go through two quarantine periods before being released from isolation.
State, U.S. stats
Missouri had 105,396 positive cases of the coronavirus and 1,732 deaths related to the disease, according to the DHSS as of today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the U.S. had 6,537,627 cases, and a total of 194,092 coronavirus-related deaths, as of today.
Anyone who shows coronavirus symptoms or who has questions should call the Missouri State Hotline at 877-435-8411 or the Mercy Clinical Support Line at 314-251-0500. For more information about COVID-19, visit jeffcohealth.org/coronavirus-covid19.
Any Missouri resident who wants a COVID-19 test may get one for free next week at Faith Community Church, 4824 Scottsdale Road, in House Springs.
The testing will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 22) and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 23).
Vollmar said she hopes to see more than 900 people tested at the event.
“The more testing we can do, the better picture we have of what’s going on within the community as far as community spread,” she said.
The Jefferson County testing event is just one of several being held around the state. The cost of the testing will be covered by CARES Act funding, the report said.
Anyone who would like to register for the event may visit health.mo.gov/communitytest or call the Missouri COVID-19 hotline at 877-435-8411.