Although Ste. Genevieve County’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen from eight to 11 during the past week, health department administrator Sandra Bell was not panicking last Thursday when she reported the news to the County Commission.
The county was still one of the best in the state, having adopted social distancing and other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines before Governor Mike Parson issued a statewide order.
Missouri’s 115 counties — of which Ste. Genevieve County ranks 60th in population — averaged 111.3 positive cases and 6.4 deaths as of May 30, compared to Ste. Genevieve County’s 11 cases and one death.
Bell said it was impossible to know whether the new cases were picked up locally or elsewhere.
She said the county’s reopening schedule would have to be pushed back a bit. With the widely reported Memorial Day weekend parties at the Lake of the Ozarks — now said to have involved at least one positive-testing individual — Parson has extended Phase One of his reopening plan through June 15.
Ste. Genevieve was already in Phase Two.
Bell addressed the issue on the health department’s Facebook page, as well.
“Our county has been very compliant through this entire pandemic, and we do not see a reason to go back into Phase One at this time,” Bell wrote. “We will continue to monitor the situation through our surveillance and contact tracing. If we see a concerning trend, we will halt progression and maybe even go backwards. Our plan is to stay in our Phase Two until at least June 9.”
The current phase allows gatherings of up to 50 people, maintaining social distancing, and businesses with 50 percent occupancy if the location is big enough for social distancing.
Bell also addressed the new cases in her post.
“Yes, the three new cases reside in Ste. Genevieve County,” she wrote. “No, they are not related.
“That is one aspect as to why we are doing the complex investigation. This county is relatively small, and close knit. We will not release specific details of positive cases unless the community at large is at risk. To provide age, gender, zip code, and place of employment leads the public to possibly identify the individuals struggling and trying to cope with this infection.
“We will most certainly notify the public if there was a gathering, event, or identified public location where the public was exposed.”
See complete story in the June 3 edition of the Herald.