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Cole County health officials said the latest state tracking figures indicate improvement on the number of COVID-19 cases in the county.

Cole County Health Department Director Kristi Campbell said the county has a seven-day positivity rate of 8.4 percent as of Tuesday. The county has also gone down to the "orange" alert level. Orange is the second highest level on the system and indicates widespread but controlled transmission of the virus.

The county had been at "red" alert level, which is the highest level and indicates widespread and uncontrolled transmission of the virus.

Also, as of Tuesday, no new deaths had been reported during the last seven days in the county.

"No one is speculating as to why numbers seem to be trending down, although it may be we are getting close to herd immunity," Campbell said. "Vaccination numbers should be helping, too, although we added 36 cases at the start of the week and 20 of those were among people who were fully vaccinated."

As of Tuesday, state figures showed Cole County had just less than 50 percent of the population, 38,155, that had received at least one dose of vaccine. Just more than 45 percent of the county's population, 34,708, had received both doses of vaccine.

Officials with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services analyzed 65 community wastewater treatment facility samples from the first full week of September for variant mutations of COVID-19. The results indicated the presence of the Delta variant at nearly all locations, including Jefferson City. The only facility that didn't have 100 percent Delta was Platte City in western Missouri, which had 90 percent delta.

The Delta variant is a strain of the virus that causes COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant was first identified in the United States in March. It is roughly twice as infectious as the original virus and as much as 60 percent more transmissible.

The county health department provides information and guidance to local school districts on COVID-19 matters, but the school boards for each district have the final say on what type of COVID-19 precautions their schools will take.

Campbell said she was pleased to see the schools were reporting their measures seemed to be effective as Jefferson City Public Schools reported five active student cases Tuesday and no active cases among staff. Blair Oaks reported they had two positive student cases and no positive staff cases.

Campbell told the County Commission earlier this month that residents do need to realize COVID-19 numbers will "wax and wane."

"We'll have outbreaks and then the levels will go back down again, even if everyone gets vaccinated," Campbell added.

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