The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) confirmed last week that at least nine area residents died of COVID-19 since Aug. 24, according to information shared by the Warren County Health Department. At least 20 have died since June.
The grim news coincides with the largest local spike in COVID cases since winter. Sharply increasing numbers for the prior three months culminated in peak caseloads of 30 to 50 new cases per day in the first half of September.
“Please get vaccinated if you have not done so already, and take isolation and quarantine instructions seriously to protect others who may not be able to survive a COVID-19 infection,” the health department said while sharing the information.
Warren County Health Director Stacey White told The Record that those who died ranged in age from people in their 40s to over 90 years old.
In total, at least 41 Warren County residents have died as a result of COVID since the first case was reported here last year, according to DHSS.
DHSS provided information about the latest local deaths all at once to the county health department on Sept. 28. According to DHSS, state reporting of COVID deaths is often significantly delayed. It is frequently being delivered in the form of batches of information, rather than up-to-date individual reporting.
The state also only reports deaths from what it labels “confirmed” COVID cases, which means the virus was identified by tests done in a lab.
Since the highest spike in early September, local COVID cases have quickly fallen. That’s given health officials a cause for cautious optimism.
“DHSS has stated that overall in Missouri cases have been declining, but there are counties and regions that are still experiencing increased cases and higher positivity rates than the overall state rate,” said White. “We are hopeful this is a downward trend that will translate across the state and nation.”
About 12 percent of COVID tests collected in Warren County are still resulting in positive cases. Health officials like that number to be below 5 percent.
White said mass testing events done with drive-thru testing at the Warren County Fitness Center have been helpful to health officials seeking to limit the spread of the virus. Mass testing allows health workers to more quickly identify cases so the relevant people can be notified to quarantine.
“Anytime testing capacity is increased, it helps reduce spread,” White commented.
Regular free testing events are being provided by a private company contracted with DHSS.