COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A Boone County health official said Friday that the record increase in coronavirus cases the day before could be related to Thanksgiving gatherings.
Scott Clardy, assistant director for the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, said the department hasn't investigated all the cases to confirm exactly how Thanksgiving is affecting the numbers, but some cases reported Thursday could be related to the holiday.
"Certainly the timing works out in such a way that we believe we are beginning to see the bump from Thanksgiving gatherings," he said
The health department is expecting to see COVID-19 case numbers stay elevated in Boone County throughout the holidays. As of Thursday, Boone County reached a record high in COVID-19 cases, reporting 226 in a single day. The county also reported four deaths in four days to start the week.
Department director Stephanie Browning extended a countywide health order Friday until Dec. 22. The order, which requires masks anywhere social distancing isn't possible, had been set to expire Tuesday. However, Browning said in a news release that officials want to give more time under the order to evaluate new case numbers.
Dr. Randall Williams, the state health director, said it is too early to tell if the expected Thanksgiving surge in cases is already starting to show up. However, he said Missouri could start to see cases increase statewide this weekend.
The new coronavirus cases hit records, two vaccines are close to receiving regulatory approval. Williams said Thursday that all health-care workers in the state could be vaccinated by the end of January.
Until then, experts and health officials are urging Missourians to continue wearing masks and using social distancing.
Clardy said the COVID-19 vaccine won't help the situation Boone County is in right now.
"We believe we will continue to see high numbers of cases because of holiday gatherings," he said. "It's unfortunate that it's happening, certainly we advise against that but we also know not everyone is paying attention to the recommendations."
Boone Hospital Center is preparing for vaccine distribution to stabilize staffing and capacity levels. Chief Medical Officer Robin Blount said Boone is working diligently on a roll-out plan.
"We don't know how many doses we will get, but our plan is to vaccinate our tier 1A employees first at Boone," she said.
Blount said Boone Hospital is putting in requests with the state but doesn't know how many doses are available.
"We are entirely reliant on how much vaccine comes into the state and how the state chooses to distribute it, we are making requests based on how many people we feel we need to vaccinate," she said.
The state plans to distribute 51,675 Pfizer vaccines in the first week. By week three the state health department hopes to have all hospitals and long-term care facilities vaccinated.