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To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, three major cities in Missouri have issued stay-at-home orders, asking residents to venture outside of their homes only for essential activities.
Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia have all issued these orders. However, as of Tuesday, Cole County and Jefferson City do not have a stay-at-home order. Instead, the Cole County Health Department has issued two advisories for residents.
Cole County on Tuesday had seven positive cases of COVID-19 — which presents with coughing, fever and fatigue, as well as difficulty breathing in severe cases — and zero related deaths in the county. The first virus-related death in the state occurred last week in nearby Boone County, which is under a stay-at-home order as of today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend minimizing close contact with others, frequent hand washing and staying home if you feel any symptoms. Across the country, states, cities and counties are issuing stay-at-home advisories or orders to prevent the spread, in accordance with these guidelines.
Cole County Health Director Kristi Campbell said all but one of the county's positive cases were travel-related. In the non-travel-related case, the person contracted the virus after being in close contact with a "known positive case from another county."
Campbell said the majority of Cole County's positive tests have been travel-related, so the travel advisory was most important. This advisory starts by saying, "As residents return from spring break trips and other travel, it is the advice of the Cole County Health Department that they self-quarantine for 14 days."
If recent travelers start experiencing symptoms, they are encouraged to seek medical attention. Staying in self-quarantine for 14 days will help reduce the spread of the disease.
According to CDC guidelines, Cole County may issue an order as opposed to an advisory depending on the number of cases and how they are spread. All cases in the county so far have been related to travel or close contact with someone who had recently traveled, and not community spread. The numbers are also still in the single digits.
"When we have evidence of community spread, we would go from a stay-at-home advisory to a stay-at-home order," Campbell said.
While Cole County is under advisories and not orders, Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin is urging residents to follow the guidelines as much as possible.
"I fully support these advisories that have been put out by Cole County Health Department, and by the strongest recommendation possible I would advise people to follow what is outlined as far as staying home when possible and limiting your contact to what's essential," Tergin said.
"As mayor, in the strongest way possible, I would ask people to follow the advisories," she added
Tergin also encourages following the CDC guidelines for personal hygiene and social distancing.
"We know what's best, and we're asking people to please take this seriously and do what's being asked," she said. "We are in this together. Our actions do affect others."
Tergin also recommends checking in on each other if possible.
"Check in on those that may not have access to the newspaper and media," Tergin said. "Making sure that, as we're asking people to stay home, that the distance between us is only physical and not social."
The other advisory issued by Cole County recommends residents remain home as much as possible to curb the spread of the virus.
It encourages residents to stay at home other than for essential activities, essential government functions, or to operate essential businesses and operations. When using shared outdoor spaces, keeping a distance of about 6 feet is recommended.
Non-essential businesses and operations are recommended to limit contact among staff and with the public, and businesses are encouraged to implement social distancing measures.
All intentional public gatherings of more than 10 people in a single space are prohibited, and the advisory states all places of public amusement should close, including museums, arcades, play centers, carnivals, amusement parks, movie and other theaters, bowling alleys and social clubs.
Public parks and outdoor recreation areas are encouraged to remain open, except for playground equipment, which may increase the spread of the virus.
It is recommended residents leave their homes only when necessary for activities related to health and safety, acquiring necessary supplies and services and for certain types of work. Physical distancing is recommended.
Some individuals are exempt from the recommendations: 911 call center employees, fire personnel, corrections personnel, health care employees, hazardous material responders from government or the private sector, workers maintaining digital systems infrastructure supporting law enforcement and emergency service operations, first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement personnel, as well as people designated by the applicable governing authority as necessary in the performance of essential government functions.
According to the advisory, essential activities are those necessary for a person to perform to ensure their health and safety or that of a family member or pet; obtain needed supplies or services; shop for groceries or other household products; engage in outdoor activities; participate in religious services in compliance with social distancing and gathering size restrictions; acts to maintain minimum basic operations of business; activities at open construction sites; necessary care for a dependent; care for a family member in another household; engage in essential government functions, health care operations and essential business; exercise constitutional rights to the extent of not endangering public health; acts consisting of providing essential products and services to the government; and performing tasks approved by an order from the Cole County Health Department director.
Essential businesses include but are not limited to health care; critical infrastructure; essential government functions; grocery stores or other food providers like farmers markets and food banks, food cultivation or production; businesses that provide food or shelter to economically disadvantaged people; newspapers and other media services; gas stations and auto repair shops; banks and financial institutions; trash collection; hardware stores, inns and hotels; and home service providers such as plumbers and electricians.
Essential travel is limited to travel related to essential business or activities; travel to care for dependents or other high-risk people; travel to or from educational institutions; travel to return home; travel required by court order; travel required by directions from law enforcement personnel; and travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence.