Osage County Health Department (OCHD) Administrator Kim Sallin said Tuesday the latest numbers are encouraging, with just eight active COVID cases — two fewer than last week — and the overall …
Osage County Health Department (OCHD) Administrator Kim Sallin said Tuesday the latest numbers are encouraging, with just eight active COVID cases — two fewer than last week — and the overall number of cases has only increased by four, from 1,598 a week ago to 1,602.
“That’s great news,” she said. “I love it, but while there are fewer cases, we still need to be cautious because the state has confirmed there are variants of the original virus in Missouri, including Jefferson City.”
Sallin said the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has been working with the University of Missouri-Columbia and the Department of Natural Resources on the Coronavirus Sewershed Surveillance Project, which focuses on sequence monitoring of wastewater samples to identify variant viruses in the sewage.
“DHSS had only been taking limited samples to test for strains but with this project, there have been many more samples collected,” said Sallin, noting that 18 of 24 communities have shown variants in their sewer systems.
Jefferson City is one of several communities tested for variants and one was found to be present in small amounts. A British variant of the coronavirus is spreading fast enough that it could become the dominant strain of the virus in the United States by the end of March.
Sallin said these variants are showing up in the sewer system several days before symptoms manifest, so it’s important to remain vigilant.
“I encourage everyone to continue wearing a mask and social-distancing, along with hand-washing and other preventative measures to contain the spread of these variants,” she said.
In related COVID news, Sallin and her staff of four nurses, two clerical staff members, and several volunteers administered 305 primary doses of the Moderna vaccine. “I want to thank volunteers Gerri Reynolds, Lucy Peters, Dale Sallin, Ron Hoffman, and Patty Bexten for their assistance,” said Sallin. “We are also very appreciative to the Osage County Community Center for allowing us to use their space."
She is seeking additional volunteers to help with registration and directing people for future clinics to be held at the Osage County Community Center. Anyone interested is encouraged to contact the OCHD office at 573-897-3103.
A new phone system was installed last week at OCHD to handle the ever-increasing number of calls. Sallin explained that when you call, there will be a prompt for those requesting a vaccine. This option will lead callers to a voicemail. The other option will lead to an OCHD employee for other business.
Finally, Sallin told commissioners on Tuesday that this year’s flu season is off to a very slow start compared to last year, with only 16 cases reported in week six, compared to more than 8,000 cases in 2020.
“I believe the measures people are taking to protect themselves and others from COVID has resulted in fewer people transmitting the flu,” said Sallin. “There have also been fewer tests, which means fewer positive results, but for the most part, precautionary measures are having a positive impact.”
For additional information and updates, visit OCHD on Facebook.