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Health department explains reasons for change in health order

Columbia City Hall
Columbia City Hall


Staff from the Columbia/Boone County health department and city leaders are discussing the current state of COVID-19.

The health department gave an update to the Columbia City Council Monday night at the council meeting.

The council had the opportunity to ask questions about the most recent data, the current health order, and more.

Director of the health department, Stephanie Browning, and Assistant Director, Scott Clardy, both attended the meeting.

The update comes as the number of new COVID-19 cases has lowered in Boone County for four days in a row.

It also comes as the latest health order has been in place for less than one week.

The current health order lifted the restriction on alcohol after 9 p.m. and allows restaurants and bars to be open until 10:30 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.

Clardy said the department looked at the numbers that have been lowering in the county.

"We were looking at, primarily, the difference, the decline in the number of new cases," said Clardy.

He said from Sept. 6 - Sept. 20, the rate of new cases fell by 35.2% from the two-week period prior to that.

For the same time, the rate of positive cases in the 18 - 22 year age range fell 42.6%.

Browning provided a list of the top things the department looks at when deciding whether to lift restrictions or change a health order.

  • Number of new cases in a 14-day period
  • Capacity for case investigation and contact tracing
  • Mode of transmission
  • Age breakdown of all cases
  • Number of hospitalizations, deaths and healthcare system readiness
  • Positivity rate
  • Enforcement and compliance issues

"Those are the kinds of things that make us think that that health order that we put into place worked," Clardy said.

He said even as numbers lower, the department will lift restrictions incrementally.

He also said it is too soon to tell whether the current order is working.

Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said city leaders continue to look forward.

"What does the horizon look like? We've got the first home football game this Saturday. Are we also going to experience a spike," Treece said. "As well as going into the fall, what are the other factors that, milestones that we're looking at that may drive future health orders."

Clardy said the department is working to enforce the current order on a case by case basis rather than punish all Columbia businesses.

"As I've said, I would much rather lift restrictions for everybody who are following the rules and have more targeted enforcement for those that, you know, are not following the guidance and advice of our public health professionals," Treece said.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.


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