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For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section.

The first death of a Cole County resident infected by COVID-19 was reported Friday.

The state notified the Cole County Health Department of the death at 1:41 p.m. Friday, department Director Kristi Campbell said in a news release.

"Out of respect for privacy we will not be releasing any further information regarding this patient," Campbell said. "We were not able to speak to this person and I can't give any demographics."

The county has confirmed 28 positive cases of COVID-19, as of Friday afternoon. That includes 17 active cases and 10 patients who have recovered, along with the one death.

"We do know of others that the person who died had contact with that may be infected or exposed to the virus. As of Friday afternoon, it's less than five people that we are aware of," said Cole County Communicable Disease Coordinator Chezney Schulte. "We contact anyone who may have had close contact with this individual as part of protocol. We tell them to monitor for symptoms, and if they begin showing signs of the virus they should contact their health care provider for testing."

Schulte said the county begins a COVID-19 investigation after the Health Department receives notification from the state, a private health lab or a health care provider that a patient has tested positive for the virus.

"We learn the day they became symptomatic, and we work to find out if there was anyone within close contact with them 48 hours prior to the symptoms' onset," she said. "We want to look at any interaction the positive case could have had. If we find a person has been in close contact with a person who has been infected, and they are not symptomatic, we still reach out regularly to make sure they are doing well. If they do become symptomatic, then we help coordinate for their testing and get them tested."

Schulte said the latest person contracted the virus from exposure to a positive case, which means they contracted the infection from close contact with someone else who had the virus. This person is self-quarantining at their home.

"We're testing multiple people who have been isolating in their homes, so hopefully we'll be getting more people released soon," Schulte said. "Everyone has been cooperative and understanding as they go through this. They realize the severity of the situation, and they stay in their homes. We've had no one break their quarantine."

Statewide, Missouri had reported 2,113 positive COVID-19 cases as of Friday afternoon, with 19 deaths related to the coronavirus. The state's total does not yet include the death in Cole County.

This article was updated at 10:54 p.m. April 3, 2020, with new information.

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