COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Boone County hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients and the overwhelming majority are coming from other area counties.
Scott Clardy, the Columbia/Boone County health department assistant director, said the numbers show the impact the outside counties are having on Boone.
"I think that lack of a mask mandate and maybe some other issues are causing these other counties to contribute more to hospitalizations more than Boone County," Clardy said.
According to data from the Columbia/Boone County health department, only 27 out of 142 currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients are Boone County residents.
Boone County does not have a county-wide mask mandate. However, Columbia -- home to most of the county's population -- does. Boone County has a health order in place that requires restaurants that serve alcohol and bars to close early and limits crowd sizes.
The county's order also requires customers in bars and restaurants to wear masks while they're not seated.
"Research shows that the masks help to contain the spread of the virus," Clardy said. "I think the issue is more about whether or not some people feel like the government should not be the ones telling them to wear a mask."
According to the health department, 179 Boone County residents have been hospitalized with the virus since the start of the pandemic.
The load of patients coming in from elsewhere has strained hospitals' resources. Boone Hospital Center told employees last week that it quickly filled a COVID-19 unit it created in September and has had to turn away some coronavirus patients.
Other county health departments have strongly suggested residents wear masks in addition to social distancing but most have stopped short of orders.
The Audrain County Health Department issued a mask advisory Tuesday, citing the rise in cases.
“This is an advisory to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” said Craig Brace, the health department administrator and CEO. “We are doing this because we are concerned about the health and well-being of our community of Audrain County and, with that recent spike, we are encouraging residents to follow public health guidelines.”
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