As local health workers continue to sound the alarm, statewide data shows Warren County as number 11 on the list of counties with the greatest spread of COVID cases compared to total population.
For the seven-day period ending Sept. 7, there were at least 115 confirmed new cases in Warren County and at least 60 more probable cases, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The number of cases is equivalent to over 32 diagnoses per 10,000 people, a seven-day infection rate that’s only exceeded in 10 other counties in Missouri.
By comparison, during that same seven-day period neighboring Lincoln County had an infection rate of about 27 per 10,000 people; Montgomery County and St. Charles County had only 14 cases per 10,000 people; and Franklin County had 22 cases per 10,000 people.
The current highest COVID infection rate in Missouri is in the state’s southeast corner, where three neighboring counties all had between 46 to 56 infections per 10,000 residents as of Sept. 7.
The Warren County Health Department is warning that the local outbreak is swiftly heading in the direction of those harder-hit areas. In the first week of September, there were more than double the number of identified COVID cases than what was detected in the entire month of June, the health department said.
Health Director Stacey White told The Record that about 99 percent of the positive cases are in people who are unvaccinated. About 34 percent of Warren County residents have been vaccinated against COVID.
Of 76 positive cases that were detected over the weekend, 28 were in school-age children, a higher percent than the average since June, White said. She speculated that the increase is due to outbreaks in a couple schools.
“We are seeing easy transmission around those positive cases we identify, and some cases are asymptomatic or mild symptoms that they would normally dismiss, thereby causing increased spread,” White said. “Any symptom in staff or kids should be a trigger for testing if we are going to catch cases and keep spread to a minimum.”
The health department continues to strongly urge all residents to get vaccinated. Free walk-in vaccinations for those 18 and older are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the health department office at 101 Mockingbird Lane in Warrenton.
A list of links to schedule appointments from other vaccination providers at regional pharmacies and hospitals, including for children 12 years and older, can be found on the health department’s website, warrencountyhealth.com.
Due to the high proportion of cases being detected here, the state health department has deployed additional testing support provided by NextGen Diagnostic Services out of Joplin. Free drive-thru COVID testing will be done at the fitness center at 3920 N. Highway 47, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the following dates:
• Wednesday, Sept. 8
• Friday, Sept. 10
• Wednesday, Sept. 15
• Friday, Sept. 17
• Friday, Sept. 24
Local health officials continue to promote these additional precautions against the virus:
• Universal masking indoors while community spread of the virus is high.
• Get tested for COVID even if you only have one symptom and think it’s just allergies.
• Take action to reduce the spread to those who might be more vulnerable to health complications from the virus.
• Follow isolation and quarantine guidelines if you are COVID positive or a close contact of a positive case.