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The Moniteau County Health Center issued a public health warning Monday, as Moniteau County currently is classified by the state of Missouri as an "extreme risk" county.

The Health Center noted in a news release that the state has set expectations for all who live or work in Missouri, based on the current state of positive coronavirus cases in Moniteau County and across the state.

The "extreme risk" classification requires that a county shows a seven-day PCR positivity rate of 15 percent or above and a seven-day case rate per 100,000 members of the population at 350 or above.

In Moniteau County, the seven-day PCR positivity rate is currently 33.6 percent, and the case rate per 100,000 residents is 545.

Under this risk classification, the state recommends business occupancy limits to be reflective of social distancing, social group sizes to number no higher than 10 individuals, and that masks be strongly recommended in all offices and businesses where social distancing is not possible.

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The Moniteau County Health Center issued a number of advisories Monday.

In regard to personal behavior, the Health Center recommends wearing a mask at all times in public and in other settings outside of one's home where social distancing isn't possible; maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet wherever possible, and limiting close contacts with other individuals to less than 15 minutes; washing one's hands often; staying home if one is sick or displaying typical symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough, shortness of breath, chills, new loss of taste or smell, or nausea; and limiting regular interactions to a small group of fewer than 10 family members, friends or coworkers.

For businesses, the Health Center advises modifying physical work spaces to maximize and maintain social distancing. Businesses should also develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, including policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing when an employee tests positive for COVID-19, and monitor their workforces for symptoms. The Health Center also recommends encouraging telework whenever feasible; working in phases or split shifts; limiting access to common areas where personnel are likely to congregate; and ensuring that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance.

In regard to travel, the Health Center recommends minimizing travel outside Missouri. For those planning to travel for gatherings over Thanksgiving, the Health Center recommends encouraging everyone who plans to attend to self-isolate, or isolate as family units, as much as is practical in advance of gatherings. Anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms should not attend any holiday gatherings, with family or otherwise.

Communities may move down in risk category following two consecutive weeks of meeting the lower category's criteria. The next lowest tier, "critical risk," would mean a seven-day PCR positivity rate between 10-14 percent and a seven-day case rate per 100,000 members of the population between 100-349.

Moniteau County has passed 1,300 total COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 110 currently active cases as of 11:30 a.m. Monday.

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