UPDATE 8:05 P.M.: The SSM Health drive-thru testing site in Mexico is changing its hours of operation.
Beginning Monday, the testing site will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon except on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
The testing site is located at the main/north entrance of the hospital off Love and Monroe Streets, specifically 620 E. Monroe.
A physician’s order is still required for testing.
Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services changes COVID-19 contact tracing process
UPDATE 7:50 P.M.: Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services is changing the COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing process beginning today.
Investigator will focus on contacting the most recent individuals who have tested positive.
There are currently 15 full time COVID-19 case investigators that were funded by the CARES Act. Additional case investigatiors with PHHS and MU staff will help conduct when their other work duties allow. The team of disease investigators can manage about 80 new COVID-19 cases per weekday, but in the last two weeks Boone County has recorded nearly twice that number on a daily basis.
Officials say by prioritizing those who have most recently tested positive "we have the greatest impact on isolating those causes, quarantining their contacts and reducing the transmission of the virus."
If you are not contacted by phone, then if you need to be contacted you will be sent a packet of information via the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Missouri Job Centers move to appointment only openings, require masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19
UPDATE 7:30 P.M.: The Missouri Office of Workforce Development will now require staff and customers to wear a mask at all Job Centers across the state to help protect staff and customers from spreading COVID-19.
Beginning Friday, all Job Centers will be open for in-person services by appointment only. Both mandates will go through Dec. 31 unless extended.
“Our top priority is delivering services in a safe and responsible manner,” said Dr. Mardy Leathers, director of OWD. “With layoffs due to COVID-19 closures, our work right now is even more important. In order to help Missourians skill up and get back to work, we have to keep our centers safe and our staff and customers healthy.”
Missouri Job Centers in mid-Missouri are in Sedalia, Columbia, Fulton and Jefferson City.
Cole County reports seven COVID-19 related deaths
UPDATE 6:05 P.M.: Cole County Health Department is reporting seven new coronavirus related deaths.
According to the dashboard, four residents of the county and three residents in a long term care facility deaths were reported.
The county is reporting 124 new cases today.
There have been 4,844 cases since March.
Boone County removes 340 cases from isolation
UPDATE 4:35 P.M.: The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services is reporting active cases has dropped another 196 cases with today's active case reporting at 1,003 cases.
The county is reporting 146 new cases bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 8,711.
The county has reported an additional 340 new cases removed from isolation bringing the cases to 7,687.
The county has reported a 128 five-day average, a rise for the first time since the weekend.
The department is also reporting a drop in COVID-19 patients in a Boone County hospital. There are 155 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, a decrease of 8 from Tuesday.
Currently there are 47 COVID-19 patients in the ICU.
The number of Boone County residents hospitalized has gone up to 42.
The department reports 22 patients on ventilators.
The hospital status is still currently in the 'yellow' zone.
Missouri River Regional Library extends closure time to Dec. 1
UPDATE 3:35 P.M.: The Missouri River Regional Library will is extending their closure to Dec. 1 now.
The library originally closed due to staffing shortages last Thursday through Sunday.
When it is time to open back up, the library will look again at staffing levels to evaluate reopening.
The Computer Center remains open during normal operating hours.
You can still request materials and check them out online for curbside pickup. If you check anything out you just need to return materials in the drop boxes located outside.
Moberly School District adopts new COVID-19 policy
UPDATE 2:14 P.M.: The Moberly School District said in a letter to parents it's updating some district COVID-19 policies at the start of the next semester.
The Moberly Board of Education voted to adopt new masking and close contact guidelines from the state education department.
Gov. Mike Parson and Missouri education leaders announced the new guidance during a state briefing last week. The updated rules state students will not be considered a close contact if they were exposed to COVID-19 so as long as they were properly wearing a mask when exposed.
The school district said all students and staff members are required to wear masks starting on Jan. 1.
Individuals who test positive for coronavirus will be required to isolate.
The release said the board of education gave parents the option to move their children to online learning from in-person for the upcoming semester. Parents who designated their children for virtual classes were also allowed to switch to in-person.
Columbia/Boone County health department updates contact tracing guidelines
UPDATE 1:14 P.M.: Leaders at Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services updated its guidelines for contact tracing.
The release sent out Wednesday morning said contact tracers will only focus on case investigations for the people who have most recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Officials said the change was made because of a large increase in COVID-19 cases.
Workers will no longer provide a timeframe for residents on when they could be contacted by the health department because of the new change.
The release said the department's 15 employees can handle about 80 cases per weekday. Boone County has reported COVID-19 cases in the triple digits recently.
"Due to the influx in COVID-19 cases, it is possible that Boone County residents will not be contacted by phone from a PHHS case investigator," department staff said in the release.
The health department will send out packets of information to people not who do not speak with contact tracers. The packet includes directions on isolation and quarantine.
Health department director Stephanie Browning brought it up during Monday night's Columbia City Council meeting. She said then contact tracers were having a hard time speaking with people in a timely manner.
Last week, the Cole County Health Department shifted contact tracing efforts to county residents. The department said the move would cut down on wait times.
People leaving workforce help push Missouri unemployment rate lower
UPDATE 11 A.M.: More than 16,000 Missourians left the labor market in October, helping to lower the state's unemployment rate again.
Missouri's unemployment rate dropped to 4.6% for October, the Missouri Research and Information Center reported Wednesday, a decline of 0.2% points from September. The rate was 1.2% points lower than October 2019 but remains above the national average of 6.9%.
MERIC reported that the rate peaked at 10.2% in April amid statewide health restrictions meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The rate shrank in June and July as restrictions eased, the center reported.
A total of 16,367 left the labor force last month as they exhausted their unemployment benefits.
The COVID-19 pandemic has lowered job numbers in several industries, according to the report, including hospitality, health care, professional and business services and information jobs. Government employment also dropped.
The Columbia area gained 500 jobs in October compared to September. However, the local labor market has lost 3,100 jobs compared to a year ago. The Jefferson City area gained 700 jobs last month but has lost 1,600 compared to last year.
Missouri surpasses 250,000 COVID-19 cases
UPDATE 8:44 A.M.: Missouri health officials say the state surpassed 250,000 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
Data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services coronavirus dashboard said the state reported 4,587 new cases since Tuesday.
Since the pandemic started in March, the state has reported a total of 253,473 coronavirus cases. Cases have nearly doubled since Oct. 1, according to health data.
The dashboard said Missouri reported more than 30,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last week.
Department data said cases were on the rise in October and spiked at the beginning of November. The average daily case increase has more than tripled since October from 1,512 on Oct. 1 to more than 4,600 on Nov. 11.
Department officials said Missouri was 11th in the country for new COVID-19 cases and deaths over the last week. The state has reported 62 new deaths over that time.
The state has also added 24 new virus-related deaths since Tuesday, going up to 3,477 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Missouri's seven-day positivity rate was up to 43.8%, an increase of 0.4% from the day before. The CDC rate increased 0.2% over that time going up to 24.6% on Wednesday.
State hospital officials say 2,588 were hospitalized because of COVID-19. It's a pandemic record and 135 more hospitalizations than the day before, according to the dashboard.
More Missourians have also been admitted into hospital ICUs than ever before during the pandemic. Health officials say 608 were in the ICU, 26 more than the day before.
State records say ICU admissions because of COVID-19 have gone up more than 100 over the last week and have increased every day over the period.
Gerbes Pharmacy launches rapid COVID-19 antibody testing
Gerbes Pharmacy announced Wednesday it will offer rapid COVID-19 antibody testing across all its locations.
The tests are done using a finger-prick blood sample to see if there are any coronavirus antibodies in the patient.
In a news release, Gerbes parent company Kroger said the test is available for $25 for anyone who believes they may have been previously infected with the virus and is not showing any symptoms at the time. Results are typically confirmed within 15 minutes.
The release said Kroger is the first retailer to offer the testing after it was approved for emergency use in July then authorized for broader use in September.