A group of 16 doctors and the president of Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Crystal City issued a statement today (Sept. 11) urging Jefferson County residents to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The group, which makes up the Mercy Hospital Jefferson Medical Executive Committee, said studies show wearing masks helps limit the spread of the virus, primarily providing protection to others but also to those who wear masks.
In addition, the committee members said COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Jefferson County and wearing masks is the best way to help prevent more cases.
“It’s our strong recommendation, based upon the scientific evidence, that all community members should wear a mask when in public settings, especially when indoors,” the committee said in the statement.
“We need to act now before Jefferson County suffers a major outbreak that could force difficult burdens on our ability to work, play, go to school and enjoy our community benefits. Do not wait for government to mandate mask wearing. Do the right thing now for your family, neighbors, friends, and of course, yourself. Start wearing a mask when out in public; it will save lives.”
New cases in the county
The Jefferson County Health Department reported 70 new COVID-19 cases in the county today, including 21 at long-term care facilities.
That brings the total number of coronavirus cases in the county to 3,406 cases.
Those cases are through midnight Thursday (Sept. 10), the Health Department reported.
Of the total cases in the county, 796 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 to 52 deaths since the pandemic began, and 2,548 cases have been released from isolation, which means the patients recovered enough to be released from case management.
Another 10 cases are under investigation, the Health Department reported.
The county is currently at the red level on the Health Department’s COVID-19 warning system.
The red level, which is the highest on the four-color system, indicates widespread uncontrolled community transmission and calls for stricter guidelines to limit the spread of the virus, including a possible stay-at-home order.
Health Department Director Kelley Vollmar said the board has not scheduled a special meeting to discuss any type of countywide order.
Like the Mercy doctors, Vollmar also urges residents to wear masks, as well as to practice social distancing, avoid crowds and take other preventive steps to limit the spread of the virus.
Any Missouri resident who wants a COVID-19 test may take one for free Tuesday and Wednesday (Sept. 22-Sept. 23) at Faith Community Church, 4824 Scottsdale Road, in House Springs.
The testing will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 22 and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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.
County COVID-19 stats
Of the total cases in the county, 3,127 are lab confirmed and 279 cases are probable, the Health Department reported.
A total of 3,430 county residents were tested for COVID-19 over the past week, and 372 were positive and 3,058 were negative. That translates to a 10.8 percent positivity rate, which is down since the last report, 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, 1,268 were transmitted through contact with someone with the virus, and it’s unknown how 2,103 of the cases were contracted.
According to the Health Department, 1,518 of the county’s coronavirus cases have been men, 1,839 cases have been women and 49 are unknown.
The confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county include 118 people younger than nine, 320 people 10 to 19 years old, 603 people 20-29 years old, 482 people 30-39 years old, 533 people 40-49 years old, 519 people 50-59 years old, 372 people 60-69 years old, 248 people 70-79 years old, 208 people in their 80s or older and three unknown.
The number of cases in each ZIP code in the county was not available as this evening.
The Health Department also reported today that it has monitored a total of 3,438 cases, and of those, 854 are still actively quarantined and another 2,584 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, 526 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, 192 are active ones, and 294 have been released from isolation. Residents in long-term care facilities go through two quarantine periods before being released from isolation.
State, U.S. stats
Missouri had 97,591 positive cases of the coronavirus and 1,691 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 6,343,562 cases, and a total of 190,262 coronavirus-related deaths, as of Thursday.
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.