EDITOR'S NOTE: An item was corrected to note Boone County's daily case record was set July 11.
UPDATE 10:40 P.M.: Columbia Parks and Recreation said Thursday that it is canceling a popular youth obstacle course event because of COVID-19.
The Splat Jr. Obstacle Course Mud Run had been scheduled for Aug. 15.
“The extension of the current health order, limiting the size of public gatherings to 100 people into the month of August, led to the mutual decision to cancel Splat to maintain public safety,” the department said in a news release. “In addition to limits on gathering sizes, ensuring social distancing and mask compliance at the event would be difficult to accomplish.”
Boone County has recorded a large surge in cases over the past several weeks, prompting health officials to extend the current phase of reopening and the Columbia City Council to approve an ordinance requiring face coverings.
The event, held at Gans Creek Recreation Area, had already been postponed from its original July 11 date. The event for children ages 4 through 15 would normally draw about 1,200 participants, according to the news release.
The next Splat run will be held July 10, 2021. Families who registered for this year’s event will receive refunds.
UPDATE 6 P.M.: Cole and Callaway counties reported large increases in COVID-19 cases Thursday.
Cole County reported nine new cases to reach 173. Despite the jump, active cases declined two to reach 53.
The county has recorded a surge in cases over the past few weeks, as have many counties across the state. Cole’s surge, however, has been lower than those in Boone and other counties. The county health department has reported 27 new cases since Friday.
The Cole County Health Department reported about 1,800 tests have been administered to county residents and about 1.5 percent of those have yielded positive results.
Callaway County’s total increased 14 since Tuesday, the last day the county health department published case numbers on its website. The county’s case total now stands at 76. Callaway, like Cole, has seen a steady increase in cases after spending weeks with few to no new cases reported.
Callaway County reported 11 new active cases since Tuesday, bringing that total to 24.
Several other Mid-Missouri counties also record increases Thursday. Boone County logged 24 new cases to reach 821 and Pettis County reported four new cases to reach 192.
Osage County reported four new cases Thursday for a total of 19. New cases were also reported in Miller, Audrain, Howard and Morgan counties.
UPDATE 4:40 P.M.: Boone County reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, a figure far higher than those reported during the first months of the pandemic but far lower than the record set a week ago.
The new cases bring the county’s total to 821. Three cases reported Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday were reassigned to other counties.
The county has counted 62 cases over the last three days. The pace is beyond that seen through March, April, May and much of June but a significant drop in the totals seen just last week, when more than 100 cases were counted between Wednesday and Friday alone.
Boone County set its single-day case record last Saturday with 53.
The county reported 314 active cases, a drop of two from the total reported Wednesday. Health officials reported 562 people in quarantine because they’ve had close contact with confirmed cases.
Thursday’s new case total took the five-day rolling average to 19.6, according to the county health department’s online COVID-19 information hub. The number peaked last Thursday at 42.2. Most of the cases reported thus far in Boone County – 459 – have been caused by close contact with a known case.
The county’s hospitals reported 25 patients with COVID-19, well above the numbers reported over most the pandemic. Nine of those patients are in ICUs and two are on ventilators.
Hospitals reported no shortages of supplies, staff or beds Thursday.
Lincoln delays opening campus one week
Lincoln University moved back its date to open the campus to the public by a week.
The university said last week that its Jefferson City campus would open to the public on July 20. However, the date has now been pushed back to July 27, Lincoln announced Thursday.
The university cited the increase in COVID-19 cases nationwide and in central Missouri as the reason for the delay.
UPDATE 3 P.M.: Fulton City Council said in an announcement Thursday afternoon councilmen are meeting to consider a face mask ordinance next week.
According to the release, the council will meet at 6 p.m. at Fulton City Hall to discuss the potential ordinance.
The release said the first hour of the meeting will be reserved for public comments in favor or opposed to the ordinance.
"Speakers, on a first-come, first-served basis, will rotate based on their position regarding a proposed ordinance," the announcement said.
Councilmen will discuss the ordinance after the comment section ends.
Residents and business owners interested in speaking must register with the city starting at noon on Monday.
The Callaway County Health Department website said in an update on Tuesday 62 county residents had tested positive for COVID-19. Thirteen others actively had the virus. Health officials said one person in the county has died from COVID-19.
As of Thursday, Columbia was the only Mid-Missouri city that had approved a face mask ordinance. Anyone within city limits is required to wear a mask in public, or they could face a fine. The city included multiple exceptions in the order.
UPDATE 2:20 P.M.: Missouri recorded more than 700 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, one day after logging its second-highest daily total of the pandemic.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 30,422 cases Thursday, an increase of 708 over the previous day. The total was well below Wednesday's increase of 888, the second-highest of the pandemic. The state set a new record Tuesday with 936 cases.
The state reported 10 new deaths for the second day in a row to reach 1,113.
The Missouri Hospital Association reported 875 Missourians hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday, the most recent data available. The number is about 100 off from the peak in early May.
The number has been on an upward trend since late June.
State health officials have said many of the new cases are concentrated in just three areas -- Kansas City, St. Louis and a part of southwest Missouri around Joplin. Many of the new cases are also in younger people who are less vulnerable to the worst complications of novel coronavirus.
However, Gov. Mike Parson warned this week that young people might not be at as much risk of serious illnesses but that they can spread the virus to those who are.
Regional hospital data released Wednesday showed the central region of the state has 21 percent of hospital capacity available and 40 percent of ICU capacity available.
Nearly 530,000 Missourians have been tested for the live virus, with 5.5 percent of them testing positive, according to the state's online COVID-19 dashboard.
UPDATE 12:40 P.M.: Schnucks has become the latest major retailer with stores in Mid-Missouri to require customers to wear face coverings.
The requirement begins Monday,
The rule will apply to all of the St. Louis-based supermarket company's 113 locations. The company has two stores in Columbia including its new EatWell natural food store off Providence Road downtown. Schnucks also has a store in Jefferson City.
“We have been monitoring this situation closely, and given the escalating number of positive COVID-19 cases in the regions we serve, we believe requiring masks for teammates, vendors and, now, customers is in the best interest of public safety," Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said in a news release announcing the change. "We understand that there are a variety of opinions about masks, however the CDC and other health experts are aligned on the benefits of facial coverings in reducing the spread of COVID-19.”
Schnucks will provide free masks to customers who don't have them while supplies last, the company said. The company encourages customers to limit store trips to one person per household and to practice social distancing.
The move comes after Walmart and Kroger, which owns Gerbes, announced their own requirements Wednesday.
Target is joining the list of the nation's largest retailers that will require customers to wear masks as cases of COVID-19 spike, The Associated Press reported.
The policy will go into effect Aug. 1.
More than 80 percent of Target's 1,800 stores already require customers to wear masks due to local and state regulations. Target said Thursday that it will hand out masks at entrances to those who need them.
Starbucks, Best Buy and Kohl's also have put mandatory face shield rules in place.
Masks were already required in Columbia under an ordinance that took effect last week.
UPDATE 10:27 A.M.: The Randolph County Health Department said a county resident has died from COVID-19 after being hospitalized last week.
Health officials made the announcement on the health department's Facebook page Thursday morning.
It's the county's first coronavirus-related death since the pandemic started. It marks Mid-Missouri's fifth COVID-19 death in the last week, two of which were confirmed in Saline County.
The health department said county residents are asked to socially distance themselves and wear a face covering.
"We're strongly encouraging everyone to wear masks when social distancing isn't possible," health department deputy administrator Craig Parsons said.
The health department spokesman said only one other county resident has been hospitalized with COVID-19 during the pandemic. That person has since recovered, Parsons said.
Parsons said there were 11 active coronavirus cases in Randolph County as of Thursday. The county health department said it has confirmed 24 cases as of Wednesday.
The health department held a testing event in Moberly last week. According to the health department's website, 130 tests have come back negative out of 131 tested.
Parsons said one person who had a pending case was re-tested. The test results had not yet come back as of Thursday.
ORIGINAL: The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said Thursday unemployment rates hit the lowest levels since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
According to the department's data, 16,781 filed for jobless benefits last week, down nearly 750 from the week before. Claims for the week of July 4 were at 17,527.
It's the second consecutive week of falling unemployment claims since the last week of June.
At least 34,308 Missourians have filed initial unemployment claims in the first half of July. It's the lowest amount of claims filed in the first two weeks of a month since March.
Over four months, at least 720,685 state residents have filed initial jobless claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. unemployment claims fell slightly last week with 1.3 million Americans filing for initial benefits. Without seasonal adjustments, claims increased by more than 100,000.