COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The director of the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services on Thursday extended the current COVID-19 order, which had been set to expire Tuesday.
The new order continues restrictions already in effect without changes, including a requirement that bars and restaurants that serve alcohol close at 10:30 p.m. The order also limits groups at restaurants and bars to 10 people, closes dance floors and requires people to eat or drink while seated.
The new order also keeps in place requirements that people wear masks when they cannot socially distance in Columbia.
The order expires Oct. 20 unless it is again extended.
Scott Clardy the Columbia/Boone County Health Department assistant director said this extension was put in place so the health department could pause and really look into data within the county before making any other adjustments.
Clardy said there are four specific things that could have an effect on what cases may look like in the next two weeks, as they don't want to move too quickly to open everything back up.
The amount of COVID-19 testing in the county is one as Clardy said the number of tests being done is low.
“This isn't an issue with a lack of testing availability,” Clardy said. “It's an issue of testing demand. So, with less people getting tested. You're going to most likely find less cases. So that gave us reason to have pause.”
In addition, Clardy said Boone County is seeing a sharp increase in hospitalizations, as of Thursday we saw it’s highest number of people in the hospital at 71 with 11 of those being Boone County residents.
Clardy said the health department is also trying to remain cautious enough to get the kids back in school.
Lastly, health officials said there has not been enough time to determine the impact of the University of Missouri’s first home football game.
So for those reasons, Clardy said. “Rather than opening things up further, we wanted to go through one more incubation period of COVID and seeing what kind of results we have, and then we would feel more comfortable.”
The extension of the order will allow the county to prepare for the extra strain on resources that will come when orders are lifted entirely, Browning said.
Boone County's new daily cases have stayed well below 100 since an early September surge led to several days of triple-digit increases.
Cases have also fallen dramatically on the University of Missouri campus after large numbers of cases in the college-age group helped drive large increases in early September. As of Wednesday, MU reported 78 active cases in students tested in Boone County.
The release said Columbia's city code requires the city council to ratify any orders that last more than 21 days. The city council will meet and vote on the order Monday.
Clardy said with Mizzou's homecoming coming up the health department hopes to see businesses continue taking precautions so the results stay on the right track.
Richard Walls, the owner of The Heidelberg said this extension would be hard as a bar owner but as a restaurant owner, he said they could push through.
Like the health department, Walls hopes local businesses and customers continue following the given guidance.
“It's also important that everyone respects the businesses they go to,” said Walls. “And follows the guidelines, does all they can to continue to find those guidelines, so that in the future, we can allow our businesses to do business as usual.”
Clardy said Boone County is headed in the right direction, compared to where it was at the end of August for the first part of September and that the health department like many others want to keep it that way.