JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Missouri National Guard administered COVID-19 tests outside a Jefferson City church on Tuesday amid a continued surge in Cole County cases.
National Guard spokesman Capt. Jeremy Idleman said soldiers are outside the First Assembly of God in Jefferson City to help increase the number of COVID-19 tests administered.
"We have over 300 that are registered for today but if you haven't registered you can come by and we'll get you through," Idleman said Tuesday morning.
Registration is available on the DHSS website.
On Friday, Cole County saw a record 90 new COVID-19 cases, Saturday and Sunday combined saw 81 and Monday saw 24 new cases. The county has recorded more than 1,000 new cases this month alone, according to the Cole County Health Department's website.
Twenty Cole County residents with COVID-19 have died.
The steep jump in cases prompted health department director Kristi Campbell to issue a plea last week for residents to follow guidelines such as using masks and social distance.
"We are still seeing exposure and cases associated with the correctional facilities, office buildings and gatherings leading to several other small/medium case clusters," Campbell said.
"For example, a group that traveled out of state together have returned and are now all positive," Campbell said. "Unfortunately, once they returned and tested positive, their household contacts had exposure and some are now symptomatic."
Prisons in Cole County are also seeing scores of new coronavirus cases. The Missouri Department of Corrections reported Tuesday that 99 inmates and 20 staff at Algoa Correctional Center have active cases. Another 123 inmates and 39 staff at Jefferson City Correctional Center also have active cases, according to the department's tracking website.
Those prison cases are part of the county's total.
Campbell says those cases are a cause for concern.
"We would certainly anticipate that if Correctional facility staff are sick, there is the potential that they would expose their household contacts or other friends and family," Campbell said.
The state's COVID-19 positivity rate also hit a new high on Monday, according to data from the state health department.
Campbell attributes the spike to a delay in reporting.
"It is likely that there could have been some reporting delays at the end of last week," Campbell said. "Recently, the cases have been coming in sporadically."
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services coronavirus dashboard said the statewide positivity rate was 22.7%.
In addition to community testing events like those in Jefferson City, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is holding weekly community testing in areas with higher population density and high demand for testing.
Among those locations is Memorial Baptist Church in Columbia, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Monday.
Campbell says the health department is talking to area leaders about a possible health order to flatten the curve.
"We have had ongoing discussions with City and County leadership about recommendations and guidelines," Campbell said. "It would be up to the City or County leaders to put those guidelines into an enforceable mandate."