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TUESDAY UPDATES: Cole, Moniteau among counties with new COVID-19 cases


UPDATE 6 P.M.: Cole, Moniteau, Pettis and Saline counties were among those reporting new COVID-19 cases Tuesday.

In Cole County, total cases went from 74 to 77. The number of active cases increased from 11 to 14.

While cases have not jumped as rapidly as they have in neighboring Boone County, Cole County's total has increased from 60 cases on June 19.

Moniteau County reported three new cases Tuesday, though health officials said they received notification of two of them on Monday. The county had been a hot spot locally for cases in April but the spread of COVID-19 has slowed there since.

The county was at 61 total cases Tuesday with just three active.

Pettis County and Saline County each reported four new cases Tuesday. Active cases went up one in Pettis and three in Saline. Saline County had been the Mid-Missouri county with the most infections but was surpassed by Boone County week.

Saline County cases stood at 291 on Tuesday.

Boone officials investigating possible case clusters

Scott Clardy, assistant director of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, said Tuesday that officials are looking into possible COVID-19 case clusters at a few locations.

Nine of the cases might be tied to three locations, Clardy said. He did not name the locations because contact tracers are still investigating.

The county reported 25 new cases Tuesday, the highest single-day total of the pandemic so far.

UPDATE 4:40 P.M.: Columbia and Boone County health officials reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, breaking a record for daily cases set nearly two weeks ago.

The increase brings the county's total cases to 379 and continues a trend of large increases over the past few weeks. The previous daily record was 18 cases, set June 18.

The county has counted 60 new cases of the disease caused by novel coronavirus since Friday. The five-day average of new cases shot up to 12 Tuesday after dipping to 10.4 Monday. The highest average so far has been 13.2, recorded Sunday.

The record increase came a day after only one new case was reported. Also on Monday, health officials said contact tracers are behind in their work because of the increased caseload. Contact tracers investigate who infected people have been in contact with.

The Columbia/Boone County Health Department's COVID-19 information hub said Tuesday that 238 people were in isolation because they've had close contact with a known case.

The county reported 108 active cases Tuesday, up from 91 on Monday.

A higher percentage of people are also testing positive for the virus. Between June 19 and Thursday, 8.2 percent of those tested were positive. That compares to 0.4 percent from May 1 to May 7.

Health officials say more young people are testing positive for the virus. While they are at lower risk of the most serious complications of COVID-19, younger people are able to spread the virus to others, including those who are more vulnerable.

Six Boone County residents were hospitalized Tuesday. Boone County hospitals were treating 12 COVID-19 patients, including those from outside Boone County. Eight were in ICUs and seven were on ventilators.

UPDATE 2:15 P.M.: Missouri's new COVID-19 cases topped 500 again Tuesday but fell short of a record.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services reported an increase of 508 cases Tuesday to reach 21,551. The jump fell short of the record of 553 set Thursday.

Statewide deaths increased by 17 to top 1,000. The state has now reported 1,015 deaths.

Tuesday's jump is part of a sustained increase in new cases in Missouri. The state set a record for daily cases last week multiple times and the rolling average of new cases reached its largest number since the pandemic began.

The trend is playing out in several states and nationwide.

Gov. Mike Parson and state health director Dr. Randall Williams have attributed the increase largely to more testing and regional outbreaks. Meanwhile, Williams says hospitalizations are at a low for the pandemic.

Cases have increased nearly 11 percent in the last week statewide, according to the state's COVID-19 information hub.

Some local counties have seen large jumps in cases at the same time, particularly Boone County. Health officials there said Monday that the number of cases has doubled since the start of June and that case loads have led to delays in contact tracing.

According to state data, Miller County has experienced the ninth-highest increase in cases over the past week, with a 36 percent jump.

About 373,000 Missourians have been tested for live coronavirus and 5.6 of them have tested positive, according to the state.

UPDATE 11:05 A.M.: A researcher at the University of Missouri has received a $200,000 grant to take an alternative look at developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

University of Missouri columns
The columns on the Francis Quadrangle at the University of Missouri.

MU said in a news release that Steven Van Doren, a professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, will look for ways to block the work of fusion peptides in the novel coronavirus.

The peptides are the mechanism by which the virus merges with a human cell after it uses its protein spikes to attach to the cell. Most COVID-19 vaccine research has focused on stopping the action of the protein spikes, not the peptides, according to the university.

“I think of the fusion peptide as a knife; it has to be unsheathed before it can do its job,” Van Doren said in the news release. “That happens when the spike protein changes shape and creates the rods that fuse with the cell. If we can keep the knife in its sheath, a vaccine incorporating this approach could save many lives.”

Research during the 2003 SARS outbreak showed that patients developed antibodies to the SARS fusion peptide, according to the release. SARS is caused by a coronavirus similar to the one that causes COVID-19.

UPDATE 9:55 A.M.: The Cole County Commission met Tuesday morning to discuss, in part, offering COVID-19 antibody testing for Jefferson City and county first responders.

Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman said in an email the commission discussed offering the testing for about $50 for each person.

Bushman said commissioners discussed whether the workers would pay for the testing. He added commissioners also looked at paying for the testing with CARES Act funding or if insurance would pick up the bill.

The commissioner said if the testing is effective it could be opened up for all county residents at a later date.

ORIGINAL: More than a dozen Missouri state prisons have confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday morning.

The Missouri Department of Corrections COVID-19 website said an inmate at Tipton Correctional Center and two workers at Chillicothe Correctional Center recently tested positive for coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, 13 state prisons have confirmed cases of COVID-19. It includes at least two facilities in Mid-Missouri.

Corrections department spokeswoman Karen Pojmann said in an email the inmate at Tipton Correctional Center had no COVID-19 symptoms. She said the inmate was tested as part of a pre-release procedure.

According to state data, at least 155 prison inmates and 57 prison workers have tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic started.

The Chillicothe prison was one of three state facilities allowed to have visitors as of last week. It's unclear if the visitors will still be allowed into the facility.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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