JEFFERSON CITY , Mo. (KMIZ)
Every home in Cole County will get a pack of surgical masks and hand sanitizer that will likely be paid for with more than $300,000 of federal funds.
The Cole County Commission approved the emergency purchase Tuesday. One is a COVID-19 supply box to go to every home in the county.
The commission made the decision as Cole County's coronavirus cases continue their rapid ascent. Cole County had at least 539 active cases as of Tuesday, not counting cases in nursing homes. The county has reported 847 new cases this month and is in the White House's "red zone" for a high rate of new cases. Jefferson City is also in the red zone.
"When we talk about COVID here in Jefferson City, Columbia and stuff they're not seeing it the way we're seeing it so were gonna send out 33,000 of these boxes to every household in Cole County and we will put our message in here from the health department explaining what to do," says Cole County Commissioner Sam Bushman.
Capital Region Medical Center in a report Wednesday said the increase in cases is putting a strain on hospitals. The hospital has moved entire units to make room for more COVID-19 patients.
The county has so far resisted issuing any health orders, with health department officials sending out regular news releases encouraging mask use and social distancing.
Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman, Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle and Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher unanimously agreed to send out the boxes to homes.
Mo Med Supplies in St. Louis will mail the boxes to an estimated 33,000 households. The supply boxes will include 50 surgical masks along with hand sanitizer and COVID-19 information from Cole County. The CDC has found that surgical masks are proven to be more effective than cloth masks.
"I don't see a mask mandate happening. I am perfectly fine with everybody using masks that want to use them," says Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher. "I am just not comfortable with a mandate because I don't feel like it fits across the whole county so I think that every business every organization that has something they just need to take it upon themselves to see how they want to address it is a lot of personal responsibility."
The boxes will cost $318,255. The commission hopes the cost will be reimbursed from federal CARES Act funds.
The supply boxes are expected to be sent to Cole County residents within the first week of December.
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