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THURSDAY UPDATES: Student at Columbia preschool tests positive for COVID-19

COVID-19 case numbers might differ among state and local health authorities because of issues with reporting and address verification.

UPDATE 9:15 P.M.: A student at Tiger Tots Academy in Columbia has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the owner Paul Prevo.

The preschool posted details on its Facebook page Thursday. The post said that the child was asymptomatic and attended Tiger Tots' west location.

The post said that the health department notified the preschool Thursday about the student.

The student was tested through contact tracing after having contact with someone outside of Tiger Tots, according to the preschool.

"The consistent effort to follow stable group and staffing procedures, as well as stringent sanitation and disinfecting processes, has been successful in limiting this exposure to a very small group of Tiger Tots’ students and teachers," the post said. "All teachers and parents with a student potentially affected by this situation have been personally contacted by administration and will be working with the Boone County Health Department to quarantine for 14 days."

UPDATE 5:25 P.M.: Another worker at a Columbia hydraulics factory has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Gates Corporation said in a statement Thursday that a worker employed through a hiring agency has tested positive. Another Gates worker tested positive for COVID-19 in March.

A company spokeswoman said the worker is in quarantine and activity in the area of the factory where that person worked was suspended until it could be disinfected. Employees who had close contact with the worker in the two days before the positive test are being told to isolate themselves for 14 days or until they test negative, the spokeswoman said.

The factory was closed Tuesday for a deep cleaning. It has since reopened.

The spokeswoman said Gates has instituted enhanced cleaning and sanitation, reduced employee density and is checking employees' temperatures multiple times per day.

UPDATE 5:15 P.M.: The Columbia/Boone County Health Department said COVID-19 cases in the county increased by nine on Thursday instead of eight.

The department reported 138 cases on Thursday, which initially appeared to be an increase of eight from Wednesday. However, the department said in a news release that it had to revise its Wednesday number after finding two cases who were not Boone County residents and adding a new case late Wednesday.

With the revision, cases increased by six on Wednesday, instead of seven, and by nine on Thursday, instead of eight.

Boone County has seen the eighth-highest increase in cases among all the counties in the state over the last seven days, according to state numbers.

UPDATE 3:45 P.M.: A Kraft Heinz spokesman said a worker is likely positive for COVID-19.

Company spokesman Michael Mullen had earlier said a worker at the Columbia plant had tested positive, but followed up with ABC 17 News to say the company is treating the case as a "presumptive positive" for COVID-19.

A test had not confirmed the infection as of Thursday afternoon but the company was treating the case as if the worker has COVID-19, Mullen said.

UPDATE 2:45 P.M.: An employee of the Kraft Heinz factory in Columbia has tested positive for COVID-19, the company said in a statement.

One employee has tested positive and is in self-quarantine at home with full pay, Kraft Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said.

"We have taken all necessary steps to identify and notify individuals who worked closely with this (employee). We have taken several proactive measures to ensure the wellbeing of our people and to help reduce the risk of virus exposure or transmission," Mullen said in the statement.

Those measures include disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces touched by employees every four hours and regular deep cleaning of production lines; signs encouraging social distancing; redesigned break rooms and staggered break times; providing face masks to all employees and checking all employees for fevers and other symptoms as they enter work.

Mullen said the company has asked employees to stay home if they don't feel well since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Columbia plant makes hot dogs.

UPDATE 2:10 P.M.: Boone and Audrain counties are among the top 10 for COVID-19 case growth in Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services.

Audrain County has seen the second-fastest growth in cases over seven days at 42.8 percent, the department reported in its online COVID-19 dashboard. The state counts 70 cases in the county.

Boone County is eighth on the list with a 20.9 percent growth rate over seven days. The state reported 133 cases in the county on Thursday.

The picture in Boone is even worse using local numbers. The Columbia/Boone County Health Department reported 138 cases Thursday, an increase of eight over Wednesday. Of those cases, 30 were active, an increase of six from the day before.

Boone County has reported 15 new cases over the last two days.

Overall Missouri cases increased by 181 to reach 12,673 on Thursday. Deaths increased by 11 to 707.

The St. Louis area continues to lead the state in deaths and cases by a wide margin.

Cases statewide have increased nearly 8 percent over the past seven days. About 7.3 percent of people tested for the active coronavirus have been positive.

State officials have repeatedly said the number of hospitalizations and the strain they bring to the health care system is more indicative of the pandemic's effects on Missouri than overall cases.

As of Wednesday, the last day for which data was available, the Missouri Hospital Association reported 644 hospitalizations, an increase of 26 from the previous day but well below the peak of more than 900.

Hospital reported more than 2,000 available ventilators.

UPDATE 11:50 A.M.: The University of Missouri-Kansas City says it will begin bringing back faculty, staff and students to its two campuses in Kansas City starting next week following its shutdown during the coronavirus outbreak.

The university said Thursday in a news release that the campuses will open in three phases, The Associated Press reported. The first phase will begin Monday, when a small group of employees engaged in critical operations will be brought back through July 5.

The second phase will bring back senior administration and departmental leaders from July 6 through Aug. 2. The final phase would bring back all remaining faculty, staff and students from Aug. 3-24, except for those with individual medical exemptions.

Some faculty and staff began returning to the university's Columbia campus last week,

ORIGINAL: Missouri's labor department said nearly 600,000 state residents have filed unemployment claims since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced Thursday thousands more in the state filed first-time unemployment claims over the past week.

According to data on the department's website, 27,207 filed for unemployment down from 27,882 from the week before. It marks the smallest decrease in claims over the past two months.

The labor department said a little more than 591,000 have filed initial unemployment over the past two months.

Workers in Boone County have filed more than 20,000 claims since March 15. The county's unemployment rate in April was 6.5 percent. Callaway County's rate was 6.9 percent and Cole County's rate was 6.7 percent.

Audrain County, where hundreds were laid off at Spartan Light Metals, had a 10.2 percent unemployment rate in April.

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics announced last week that April's statewide unemployment rate hit 9.7%. The US unemployment rate was 14.7% over the same period. Millions more Americans have filed for first-time benefits since then.

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ABC 17 News Team

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