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Coronavirus

Boone County continues phased reopening as COVID-19 cases rise

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A new health order that allows all Columbia/Boone County businesses to reopen went into effect at 12 a.m. Tuesday.

"Phase 2, Step 2" of the county's plan to reopen comes as COVID-19 cases increased by 18 in one week. The total number of confirmed cases in Boone County is now at 123. Twenty-two of those are active.

The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services implemented "Phase 2, Step 1" of the reopening plan on May 4, when there were 96 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Boone County.

The cases then stabilized at 100 for more than a week from May 9 through May 16.

Since May 16, confirmed cases of the coronavirus increased by 23.

"While the recent data is concerning, we have not yet reached a point where we feel it is necessary to tighten restrictions under a new public health order," said Stephanie Browning, the director of PHHS. "However, if we continue to see trends in which community transmission increases, we may need to invoke more mitigation efforts."

More than half of the new cases are in individuals younger than 30, according to a news release from PHHS.

Dr. Robin Blount, the chief medical officer at Boone Hospital Center, said the hospitals are watching the increase closely. She said the county should be worried when a greater number of cases need more extensive medical care.

"As long as the volume is manageable, we probably won’t need to go into a heavier emergency mode," Blount said.

The new order is less restrictive than the one implemented on May 4. Additionally, it is less restrictive than the statewide order. Here are the highlights of the order:

  • Restaurants and bars are allowed up to 50% capacity, but must spread tables out by 6 feet. Bar service is not allowed.
  • Nightclubs, movie theaters and other entertainment venues are allowed to reopen with 50% capacity limits or a maximum of 50 people. Each entertainment venue must submit an operational plan before reopening.
  • Childcare facilities and day camps can have up to 25 kids in each group or room.
  • Personal care services such as hair salons can have 50% capacity or a maximum of 25 people. Employees and customers must wear masks when possible.
  • Pools may open, but an attendant must monitor and enforce social distancing. If there is no attendant, up to 25 people are allowed in the pool.
  • Non-contact sports can restart. Contact sports can have non-contact practices with 25-person groups. Capacity for fans is limited to 50% or a maximum of 50 people.
  • Playgrounds, parks, spray grounds and trails are allowed to reopen.
  • All public and private gatherings are limited to 50 people.

The order also allows businesses to submit a plan to PHHS to exceed the maximum limits.

The only difference between the statewide order and Boone County's new order applies to retail businesses. Gov. Mike Parson has a stricter order, limiting retail stores with less than 10,000 square feet to 25% capacity. Larger stores are limited to 10% capacity.

Retail businesses must follow these state guidelines until they expire on May 31.

Even though the county is taking these steps to reopen, PHHS encourages all individuals to take the following precautions:

  • Continue social distancing.
  • Wear a mask when social distancing is difficult.
  • Keep gatherings small.
  • Continue washing hands often.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Stay home if you are sick. 

If cases continue to rise in Boone County, Blount said the hospitals still have surge plans that were not fully utilized during the original peak of the virus. However, they hope it does not come to that.

"We’re all really watching very closely, Blount said. "There’s more activity in Boone County and more positives in Boone County than we’ve seen for quite some time. We really have to remain vigilant."

Boone / Columbia / Mid-Missouri Business / News / Top Stories / Top Stories
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Molly Stawinoga

Molly Stawinoga is ABC 17’s weekday morning anchor and a reporter at ABC 17 News. Molly joined the news team in 2017 while studying political science, journalism and Spanish at the University of Missouri. She is originally from DeKalb, Illinois.

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