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St. Joseph health department reports 4 additional COVID-19 deaths, changes to contact tracing

Because of the surge in cases, the health department is making changes to the contact tracing process.

Posted: Nov 24, 2020 6:14 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph Health Department reported four new deaths and 121 cases of COVID-19 Tuesday.

The four new deaths include:

-A man in his 50's with no known health conditions.
-A man in his 50's with underlying health conditions.
-A man in his 70's with underlying health conditions.
-A man in his 80's with underlying health conditions.

A total of 5,793 positive cases have been reported in Buchanan County since the pandemic began. The county's positivity rate is 23.42 percent.

The county has reported 10 COVID-19 related deaths in the past two days.

Because of the surge in cases, the health department is making changes to the contact tracing process.

Moving forward and for the foreseeable future, only cases and their household contacts will be called by health department contact tracers.

Contact tracers will continue to collect information for the COVID-19 case file that includes the names and phone numbers of close contacts (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more; direct exposure via sneeze/cough/etc.; or shared drink/food/utensils).

The follow-up with those contacts will now be the responsibility of the positive case. The case will receive instruction on how to inform their close contacts of the exposure, the recommendation to quarantine for 14 days and how to proceed if
symptoms develop.

The COVID-19 case will also be responsible for notifying their own employer of their illness and will be asked to inform their employer of possible exposures that may have occurred in the workplace. The employer will be responsible for addressing those circumstances appropriately by notifying employees and patrons.

The health department tracks data that includes the number of new cases in Buchanan County each day. The 14-Day average has almost doubled the past month from 45 to 82.

"With 82 new cases per day on average now, and the likelihood of an additional increase following the upcoming holidays, individuals who test positive may experience a delay before contact tracers are able to reach them," the health department said. "It is imperative for cases to isolate for the full, recommended ten days, even once they begin to feel better. Cases should also immediately determine those they were in close contact with and notify them as soon as possible, asking them to
quarantine for the 14 days after the last contact they had with the case and to seek testing and medical attention for related symptoms. These measures will impact our community, resulting in fewer people who contract COVID-19, fewer
hospitalizations and fewer deaths related to COVID-19."

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More hot and humid weather on the way for today with highs back in the upper 90s with some areas reaching triple digits. Use caution when spending time outside because heat index values will once again be in the triple digits for many. A cold front will start to approach our area tonight and stall to our north giving us a few chances for showers and thunderstorms overnight, however this activity will not be widespread. Temperatures will still be above average this weekend with highs in the 90s. A few lingering rain chances will continue this weekend, but much of the weekend will be dry. The cold front will move through the area early next week giving us some much cooler temperatures. High will be back down in the upper 70s and lower 80s to start off next week.
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