UPDATE 5:20 P.M.: Southern Boone County School District sent a letter home to parents about a staff member testing positive for novel coronavirus.
In the letter to parents, Superintendent Christopher Felmlee says nurses and administrators conducted contact tracing and found 17 middle school students and five district employees who will need to quarantine for 14 days.
The district will clean the middle school over the weekend.
The district plans to continue to provide in-seat instruction for Kindergarten through twelfth grades. The administration will continue to monitor the situation and keep our school community informed of concerns and changes.
Boone County COVID-19 hospitalizations remain near record level
UPDATE 4:40 P.M.: Boone County reported a higher number of new COVID-19 cases Friday compared to the day before while hospitalizations stayed near record levels.
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services reported 79 new cases for a total of 4,179 since the pandemic started in March. Active cases dropped by 16, settling at 462.
Another 1,128 county residents were in quarantine because they were exposed to the novel coronavirus.
The 79 new cases reported Friday extends a streak with new cases of fewer than 100 to 13 days. However, Friday's number is 35 more than the 44 new cases reported Thursday.
Boone County also reported another death related to COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its total to eight. Mid-Missouri counties have reported about a dozen new deaths from the disease this week, including two in Cole County reported Thursday.
Boone County hospitals reported 59 patients with COVID-19 on Friday. The record is 61.
The local health department said in a message posted on social media Friday afternoon that hospitalizations are on an upward trend in the county, as patients from around the Mid-Missouri region come to Columbia hospitals for treatment.
Of the 59 patients hospitalized Friday, 20 are in intensive care and 11 are on ventilators, according to the department's online COVID-19 hub. It's the highest number of ventilated patients seen during the pandemic here.
Cases surged in Boone County and around the area starting in late August. That increase was initially driven in large part by more positive results in younger people.
Health officials have said the numbers of young people testing positive are on a downward trend. The University of Missouri reported a drop of 18 active cases in students living in Boone County on Friday for a total of 184.
The county health department reported 44 of the 79 new cases Friday were in the 18-22 age group.
The increase in cases over the past few weeks has driven a rate tracked by Columbia Public Schools well above the threshold at which district leadership recommends all online classes. The rate -- the number of cases per 10,000 in the district over the last 14 days -- reached 91.4 on Sept. 7 but had fallen to 64.9 by Friday. Administrators pegged 50 at the level at which online-only classes are recommended.
Students began class Sept. 8 online-only. The school board, which has the ultimate decision on how classes will take place, has asked for a plan to gradually get students back in school. The board meets next week.
Missouri adds 1,700+ COVID-19 cases, 23 deaths
UPDATE 3:01 P.M.: A tweet from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said the state added more than 1,700 COVID-19 cases and 23 virus-related deaths on Friday.
Missouri added 1,795 new cases over the last 24 hours, slightly higher than the number of cases added on Thursday and the highest addition this week, according to the tweet.
Friday's release accounted for the most virus-related deaths in a day since Sept. 5 when the state added 77.
Cases topped out at 110,129 and deaths were capped off at 1,780 with Friday's addition.
Health officials said the state's positivity rate increased to 11.7% up six-tenths from the day before.
Morgan County made it on the health department's list of counties with highest percent increase in cases. The department's dashboard said cases have increased 26% over the last week, with cases up to 250 from 198.
According to the dashboard, Missouri is closing in on 1.2 million COVID-19 tests since the pandemic started. The website said 8.9% of all tests have come back positive.
Statewide coronavirus hospitalizations hit the second-highest level since March. At least 1,025 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized on Tuesady, the last day hospitalization data was available.
Boone County COVID-19 rate remains high; State Tech cancels Spring Break
UPDATE 12:40 P.M.: The positive rate of COVID-19 tests in Boone County dropped over the past week but remains at more than 20 percent.
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services released an updated positivity rate graphic Friday. The rate is the percentage of people tested for novel coronavirus in a week who receive a positive result.
The rate fell to 22.6% for the week that ended Thursday, down from 23% the week before. The department cautioned the rates are preliminary because local health officials might not have received all negative results.
Health officials say rates at 10% or more are cause for concern.
The department this week issued a major correction to positivity rates dating back to May 1 because of delays in receiving negative results from a lab. The revision changed a 44.6% rate for the last full week in August to 8.9%. However, the rate has steadily climbed since then.
Health department leaders said this week that a health order that went into effect Aug. 28 with tighter regulations on some businesses was not based on the positivity rate alone.
A new order that went into effect Friday relaxed some of those restrictions.
State Tech cancels Spring Break
State Tech in Linn announced after its board of regents met Friday that it is canceling Spring Break.
The college said in a news release that the move was made to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The spring semester will begin Jan. 5 and end one week early on May 1, according to the release.
“The decision to cancel Spring Break hedges on the belief that we will still be dealing with COVID-19 next March," State Tech President Shawn Strong said in the release. "I hope I am wrong but it just doesn’t look like we will be to a place where we feel comfortable sending students off campus for a full week right before the end of the semester rush."
"While we may be the first in Missouri, a number of schools in other states are already doing this. I suspect this will become the norm for this academic year. We just want to give students and employees time to plan."
MU Health Care to stop COVID-19 testing at Hearnes Center site, for now
UPDATE 11:48 A.M.: University of Missouri Health Care is putting a pause on its COVID-19 testing site near the Mizzou softball field, according to a release sent out Friday.
Effective Saturday, all MU Health Care testing will move to the site at the Mizzou North building, officials said.
The university made the move because fewer people have been getting tested for COVID-19. The release said testing at both sites went from 3,100 to about 2,000 in the last week of August.
Friday's announcement marks the second time MU Health Care has stopped testing at the softball field site.
Testing could be resumed at the Hearnes Center if testing volume increases, the release said.
The Mizzou North is open from 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. - noon on Saturdays.
Boone County confirms 8th COVID-19 death
The Columbia/Boone County health department said eight Boone County residents have now died from COVID-19.
Health officials said in a tweet the resident was in the 70-74 age range and that no other information would be released.
Friday's announcement marks the first coronavirus-related death in the county in more than three weeks.
New Boone County health order takes effect
A new health order went into effect for Boone County at midnight on Friday and is set to expire Oct. 6.
The biggest change in the new order impacts bars and restaurants. Bars, and all places serving alcohol were previously expected to stop serving at 9 p.m. and close at 10 p.m.
Bars and restaurants can now serve alcohol for as long as they are open. However, they are expected to close at 10:30 p.m.
If found to be in violation, a business could be asked to close until an operational plan is submitted and approved by Public Health and Human Services.
Plans for events in the last order were required to be sent in 30 days in advanced. That time period is now only 14 days.
The current health order can be viewed in full, here.