The first case of coronavirus in Boone County is a person in their 60s and is related to travel overseas.
During a news conference Tuesday evening at Columbia City Hall, Mayor Brian Treece gave those details and said the person is in isolation.
The Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Senior Services has been in contact with the patient and has identified others who have been in close contact with that person, Director Stephanie Browning said.
The health department staff will follow up with those people and make sure they get treatment as needed, she said. They will be provided with guidance and recommendations for remaining isolated until it can be determined if they are ill.
"The patient will be on home isolation until symptom-free," she said, with two negative tests taken 24 hours apart.
In response, Browning invoked powers granted by the City Council on Monday night to limit gatherings and the number of customers who can be served by businesses.
There can be no public gatherings over 50 people, and businesses that serve large numbers of people — including but not limited to restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and gym and fitness centers — may have no more than half their rated capacity, or 50 people, whichever is less. The number includes employees on the premises.
The number of cases in the state as tracked by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services grew to 15 on Tuesday, with new cases in Cole and Jackson counties as well as additional cases in locations that already had at least one.
Nationally, there were 6,423 confirmed cases of COVID19, with 108 deaths. Worldwide, the disease that emerged late last year has infected more than 197,000 people and is blamed for more than 7,900 deaths.
University of Missouri Health Care issued a press release that it had treated a case.
Drive-thru testing of people with for people with mild symptoms who’ve been assessed by a provider either through a clinic or video visit will begin at MU Health Care on Wednesday, the release stated. Once fully operational, the testing will be open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily in the MU softball stadium parking lot.
MU Health Care is working with a local vendor to make rapid testing available within hours, the release said.
"The new system will provide a fast, safe and convenient way to test for the virus without increasing exposure risks to others," said Mary Beck, DNP, MU Health Care chief nursing officer. "The drive-thru will also lessen the testing burden on our emergency departments for patients with mild symptoms, freeing them up to care for the sickest patients."
In a news conference at his Missouri Capitol office, Gov. Mike Parson announced steps that include relaxing rules on public assistance programs and to urge Missourians to take the pandemic seriously.
Parson reported that 432 out of 555 school districts and charter schools have closed or are closing and that "additional restrictive measures" will be announced.
"I don’t think coronavirus will be here for a week or two," Parson said.
Parson ordered the state’s 13 casinos to close until at least March 30.
The warnings that social distancing is the best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus are true and that makes it each person’s responsibility to be careful, Parson said.
"Those are the things that will save lives," he said. "Those are the things that will protect us."
The growing number of Missouri cases concerns county clerks, with 45 including Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon, asking for a court order moving the April 7 election to June 2.
The clerks are continuing to plan as though the request won’t be granted, Lennon wrote in a news release.
"It is our mission to ensure the integrity of Boone County elections and the safety of all of our voters and election judges," she wrote.
At a news conference in Columbia earlier in the day, Parson said the state will have the ability to test 10,000 samples per day by April 1.
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Missouri is under a state of emergency declared by Parson.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol stated that it was suspending driver road testing at all locations in the state.
In Washington, D.C., Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., introduced legislation to alleviate some of the economic hardship caused by disruptions in workplaces.
Hawley called for a a fully refundable monthly benefit lasting through the coronavirus emergency in the amounts of $1,446 for a family of three, increasing to $1,786 for a family of four and $2,206 for a family of five.
In Missouri, where fewer than 300 people have been tested so far, by next Friday the state will have the capacity to test around 280,000 people per week, said Randall Williams, director of the state Department of Health and Senior Services.
There isn’t a backlog of tests in Missouri; the problem is supply, Williams said.
Asymptomatic people, along with those with a mild cough and a fever, are having trouble getting tested because the state fears that if it runs out of tests on people with less critical symptoms, it could lose the ability to test patients with critical symptoms in the future.
Missouri has tested far fewer people than other surrounding states like Illinois, where over 1,600 people have been tested. The CDC is the main control agent directing how many tests each state receives, Williams said.
Numerous school districts followed the lead of others Tuesday by announcing they would end classes for up to three weeks.
All Boone County school districts have announced they will close. In Callaway County, Fulton Public Schools followed suit.
"We know that closing will have a significant impact on our families, but we also believe that strong, urgent action is needed to prevent the spread of this disease and save lives," Superintendent Jacque A. Cowherd wrote in a message to parents.
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