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Cole County health officials recommend going with statewide COVID-19 order


The Cole County Health Department recommended Tuesday that county leaders not adopt specific local regulations related to COVID-19 when a statewide stay-at-home order expires Sunday.

During a meeting with county commissioners, the Cole County Health Department suggested adopting Gov. Parson’s new order to reopen Missouri that will take effect Monday and not make any stricter guidelines in Cole County. 

The health department had discussions with community leaders in the city and in the county, as well as other counties across the state, to get feedback, said Chezney Schulte, Cole County Health Department communicable disease coordinator. 

“The governor allows for the county health departments to make more strict guidelines,” Schulte said. “But we can't be any less restrictive. And so that's where we're going to go for Cole County to follow the governor's order across the state.”

Parson's order allows businesses to reopen but with certain restrictions.

Schulte said when businesses, including hair salons and spas, are reopened they will have to practice social distancing and have employees wash their hands and wear masks.

“So you will see a lot of recommendations for that 6 feet of physical distancing,” Schulte said. “Maybe for salons and spas spacing out their workstations a little bit differently or allowing for people to work in every workstation, just depending on what it looks like for your business or your establishment.”

The Cole County Health Department will provide recommendations for churches and businesses that have mass gatherings.

“There's going to be a lot of recommendations on just how it could change your business,” Schulte said. “But still allowing hopefully to the are able to function still.”

Parson’s statewide order will remain in effect through May 31. Shulte said if the Cole County Health Department gets concerned about an increase in cases or certain events, new local guidance or stricter orders could be enforced.

“If we noticed an influx in any one area around the community, then we can make orders that are more strict in those areas,” Schulte said.

The Cole County Health Department will still be conducting active case investigations.

Schulte said it's important that people understand this is a new normal. 

“We want people to be optimistic about what's going on,” Schulte said. “But also realistic. Just because we're reopening doesn't mean that the virus is gone, necessarily, it's just that our numbers in Cole County allow for us to start the reopening of Missouri, our resources in the area.”

Cole County's cases have grown slowly in recent weeks and stood at 50 on Tuesday morning. Of those cases, 42 patients have recovered.

Schulte said testing availability and the resources the health department has to do the contact tracing -- investigating everyone a COVID-19 patient came into contact with -- all factor into the opening up of Cole County.

Schulte said if someone does not feel safe to return to normal activities they can still work from home and continue to order groceries and use curbside pickup during the reopening process. 

Even though businesses will be allowed to have customers or clients into their facilities starting Monday, Schulte believes businesses will still allow for curbside pickup and online orders as they've been doing the last few weeks, so adjustments can be made.

Last week the Columbia/Boone County Health Department created a new stay-at-home order in effect until Monday and said a framework for response and recovery is being drafted.

As of now, that plan has not yet released but the Columbia/Boone County Health Department said the plan will be made public this week.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.


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