Twin Lakes Area COVID-19 Cases: Here’s Where We Stand Right Now

Joyce Coates
County Reporter
County health departments in Benton County and its neighbors to the north and south, Pettis and Hickory Counties, respectively, update their Facebook pages regularly with the latest statistics about COVID-19 cases within their jurisdictions.
Representatives of the three health departments surveyed shared what details they could about the numbers of COVID-19 cases in their counties, as of Monday, May 18, 2020. Privacy regulations protect personally identifiable medical information and restrict the information health departments are allowed to make public. 
Barb Schroder, public health nurse, said all 9 individuals who tested positive in Benton County had been or still were self-quarantined at home; none have been hospitalized. Among them, 7 are listed as “recovered,” after having spent fourteen-days in isolation. Only 2 “Active” cases remain self-quarantined. Not authorized to reveal any specific individual’s gender or age, Schroder could say only that ages of people with confirmed cases ranged between 30 and 80.
“We remind people who have recovered to wear masks whenever they go out in public. In fact, we advise everyone to wear a mask in public,” Schroder said. “When we can, a week or so after they end their quarantine, we like to check on people who have recovered to make sure they’re doing well,” she said, adding that for those who do not have masks, any kind of covering is better than nothing at all.
On a positive note, Hickory County Health Department, fortunately, reports that testing results to date show no cases of the virus confirmed.
With respect to testing, only Pettis County Health Center (PCHC), among the three counties contacted, reports numbers of tests per week on its Facebook page. As of May 18 the cumulative number totaled 2,331. 
JoAnn Martin, PCHC administrator, said Bothwell Hospital and Katy Trail clinics report their numbers for the region that may not reflect all tests administered. Some private labs that report results to Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), only report the number of positive tests. Because test numbers are incomplete—although Barb Schroder said she does get some numbers from the local Katy Trail--Benton County has not published test numbers. 
As of May 18, Pettis County has 70 confirmed cases, including 30 active (under observation) and 2 hospitalized, one of whom was among 39 released from self-quarantine. To date, one elderly victim has died. 
“There is no standard definition of ‘recovered’,” Martin said. In general, it applies when there are no signs of illness 30 days after being released for regular activities. 
Martin reiterated what she said we have all heard repeatedly, that everyone should maintain social distancing of 6 feet, wash hands regularly and wear masks in public. 
“It would be best if people have at least two masks so they would always have a clean one,” Martin said. Her health center, Bothwell and Katy Trail distribute free masks and are working to expand the number of locations, especially as more businesses reopen.
In particular, patrons should wear masks when going to restaurants in the county that can now, as of May 18, resume dining-in service. However, restaurants must adhere to social distancing rules. Tables must be 6 feet apart, a requirement that restaurants of smaller size find difficult to meet. Some, therefore, have chosen not to offer dining-in, but rather to continue with only curbside or carry out service. For that reason, it may be best to call ahead to restaurants of interest, to be sure what services are available or to make reservations.
No public health orders at the state or county level require people to wear masks. Martin’s advice to people concerned because employees at some stores do not wear masks, is to speak with the managers about those concerns. Let them know they may lose customers who feel uncomfortable when they see employees not wearing masks, and worry about the possibility of contacting the virus in such an environment.
“We need to follow the guidelines, and be aware that the virus does not respect boundaries, or one person over another,” Martin said.