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WEDNESDAY UPDATES: Columbia Regional Airport continues to see drops in traffic

UPDATE 8:05 P.M.: Columbia Regional Airport continues to see drops in traffic compared to 2019

The Columbia Regional Airport saw 86.3 percent fewer passengers last month compared to June 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic suppressed travel.

The airport counted 3,344 passengers last month, up 1,089 from May. The number was still far below the total from the previous June which saw 24,336 passengers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, traffic at the airport dropped nearly 43 percent compared to the previous year, with only 12,388 passengers using the airport.

The airport only had 1,045 passengers in April, counting those boarding and exiting commercial flights at the airport. Traffic that month was down 92 percent from April 2019. That number is even more dramatic when considering April 2019 traffic was affected by a bump in the runway that stopped flights for a period.

The April 2020 passenger number was the lowest of the last 10 years, even with expanding flights and destinations.

UPDATE 6:05 P.M.: Cole County reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, it's biggest increase since March 29.

The Cole County Health Department reported 102 cases Wednesday, up from 94 reported Tuesday. The jump is the largest since the county reported 10 new cases in late March.

Active cases increased by five as some recoveries offset the new positives. Cole County is the site this week of community testing by the state, where anyone can be tested regardless of symptoms. It wasn't clear whether any of those tests factored into the Wednesday increase.

Cole County has seen steady growth in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, though the increase has been far below that seen in neighboring Boone County. The heath department has reported 21 new cases since Friday.

Other local counties reported increases Wednesday, as well. Callaway County reported one new case to reach 60, with 20 active cases.

Randolph, Audrain and Miller counties each reported a new case Wednesday, as well.

Pettis and Saline counties each reported seven new cases.

South Callaway schools make fall plans

The South Callaway School District released its plan for fall classes this week, laying out several options for parents from all in-person classes to online-only education.

The plan currently in effect is to resume all in-person classes on Aug. 24, the district said in a letter to families this week. Other plans are for a limited number of students on campus and one for distance learning only.

The district encouraged anyone who can to get high-speed internet ahead of next school year. Students will not be required to wear masks but temperature checks are likely, according to the letter.

A link to the full message is available below.

UPDATE 4:50 P.M.: Boone County has again shattered its record for most COVID-19 cases reported in a day.

The county health department reported 51 new cases Wednesday, surpassing the old record of 39 set Thursday. The new cases pushed the total since the pandemic began to 597.

The county originally reported 547 cases Tuesday but revised that number down one.

Boone County has seen accelerated growth in the number of COVID-19 cases over several weeks. The positive rate of those tested shot to 15.7 percent for the week ending Thursday, compared to 0.9 percent to start June.

The county has reported 99 cases between Monday and Wednesday.

The number of active cases vaulted past 200 for the first time Wednesday, increasing by 41 to reach 230. Recoveries offset some of those new cases. Columbia/Boone County officials reported 452 people were in quarantine because they've had close contact with positive cases.

The county's five-day rolling average of new daily cases also hit a new high Wednesday at 27.6. The cases have increased even as testing has dropped off since May and June, according to information posted to the county's COVID-19 dashboard.

Eight Boone County residents are hospitalized with COVID-19 and the county's hospitals were treating 15 patients Wednesday, including residents of other counties. Six are in ICUs and four are on ventilators.

The county's hospitals are reporting no shortages of staff, equipment or beds.

County health officials warned in a news release that because of the increased cases it might take them several days to contact everyone directly exposed to COVID-19 patients.

UPDATE 3:50 P.M.: People going to the Boone County Courthouse and the Juvenile Justice Center will be required to wear masks in accordance with Columbia's ordinance.

Kevin Crane, presiding judge for the 13th Judicial Circuit, issued an order Wednesday requiring face-coverings in the circuit's Boone County buildings. The order is in line with a mask ordinance passed at Monday's meeting of the Columbia City Council.

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday and expires Oct. 8.

The order "means anytime anyone is moving through the courthouse they will need to have a mask on," Court Administrator Mary Epping said in announcing the order.

Judges and commissioners will remove their masks while on the bench so they can be understood and because they will be at least 6 feet from other people. Lawyers and parties to cases will have to wear masks until their cases are called.

The courts will make masks available to anyone who enters those buildings.

Nursing home testing residents, employees

Columbia nursing home South Hampton Place said Wednesday it is testing residents and workers for COVID-19.

The nursing home did not say whether a COVID-19 case has been identified there, but said it is working with state and local health officials "on this evolving situation."

The home is waiting on confirmation of all test results, South Hampton Place said in a statement.

In the statement the nursing home said it is following all CDC guidelines and working to protect the health of workers and residents. The home thanked its staff and all health care workers for their actions during the pandemic.

Long-term care facilities are required to report COVID-19 cases to the state but the state does not disclose the names of facilities with positive tests. When cases are reported the state issues guidance which includes testing of all residents and staff as part of the state's "box in" strategy for coronavirus containment, said Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Six such facilities in Boone County have reported at least one case, according to the state's COVID-19 online dashboard.

ORIGINAL: Missouri daily COVID-19 cases hit their second-highest number of the pandemic Wednesday, one day after setting a new record.

Statewide cases increased by 575 to reach 25,204, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services. Deaths increased by four to reach 1,046.

The 575 cases is nearly 200 below the new record of 773 set Tuesday. Health officials attributed the large increase Tuesday in part to delays in data entry because of holiday weekend staffing levels.

The previous record of 553 was set June 25.

The state has seen a sustained increase in COVID-19 cases over several weeks, setting numerous daily records for new cases during that time. State officials have attributed much of the jump to increased testing and said hospitals have plenty of remaining capacity.

However, COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing in Boone County and statewide.

The state reported 694 hospitalizations as of Sunday -- the most recent data available. The number spent much of June around 600 but had dipped no lower than 676 since June 29.

The number peaked at 984 on May 5.

The Missouri Hospital Association released regional hospital data Wednesday. The information is current through Saturday.

According to the report for the state's central region, 23 percent of area hospitals' capacity is open and 46 percent of the region's ICU capacity is available.

Boone, Moniteau and Audrain counties have the highest prevalence rates in the central region for COVID-19 infections, according to the report.

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ABC 17 News Team

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