Ripley County Approaching 500 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Since March

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Ripley County Health Center has confirmed 18 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 48 hours, bringing the total number of cases since March 27 to 480.

Health center director Jan Morrow said Tuesday that her staff currently is monitoring 136 cases among county residents.

Seven new cases were confirmed on Tuesday after 11 were confirmed on Monday.

While the health center has confirmed six deaths in the county related to the Coronavirus, an obituary provided to The Prospect-News by the family of Jerry L. Chase , 68, of Doniphan listed his cause of death as COVID-19. Mr. Chase died Wednesday, Nov. 11, at St. Claire Hospital in Fenton, Mo. He was employed at Vitronic, Inc., in Doniphan.

Morrow continues to advise all Ripley County residents to follow recommended guidelines to curtail transmission for the virus.

On Nov. 12, Gov. Mike Parsons announced changes in the state’s K-12 school quarantine guidelines.

The large number of students and school staff members quarantined in recent weeks has presented a significant strain for educators, school leaders and Missouri families alike, the governor said.

Doniphan R-I cancelled classes last week three days before a scheduled two-week break for deer season and Thanksgiving. Naylor R-II, Gatewood R-III and Lone Star R-IV all presently also are closed for the fall break. All schools are scheduled to re-open Nov. 30.

“We know that COVID-19 is not going away soon, so it is important that we continue to evaluate the guidance we’re issuing at the state level to make sure our procedures are sustainable for the next several months,” the governor said. “We have been working hard with DESE and DHSS to find a solution that allows us to continue providing the high-quality education our students deserve while still keeping them, our teachers, and all school staff members safe.”

Under the updated guidelines, proper mask wearing may now prevent individuals from being identified as close contacts in K-12 schools that have implemented a mask mandate. This means that if both individuals at school - the person diagnosed with COVID-19 and the person exposed to the positive case - have masks on and are wearing them correctly, the individual exposed does not need to quarantine.

Exposed individuals should self-monitor and stay home at the first sign of illness. They should also continue to wear a mask at all times to further reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus. The person who tests positive for COVID-19 is still required to isolate at home.

Close contacts in K-12 schools should continue to quarantine at home for 14 days if (1) their school does not require students and staff to wear masks, or (2) the mask was not being worn appropriately by either the person diagnosed with COVID-19 or the person who was exposed.

“Schools that are consistently implementing COVID-10 mitigation strategies remain among the safest places for our students,” Gov. Parsons said. “We believe this change will lead to more schools encouraging proper mask usage, helping to further protect students and educators from the spread of the virus.”

Gov. Parsons was joined at Thursday’s briefing by Dr. Rachel Orscheln, associate professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Dr. Orscheln has worked closely with DHSS and DESE throughout the pandemic.

“Given the high rates of COVID-19 in our communities, it is inevitable that some children and adolescents will test positive,” Dr.Osrcheln said. “We also know that some of these children will likely, at some point in their illness, be at school. However, we have learned that in schools where students and staff are always wearing masks and practicing physical distancing, this virus does not spread as easily as it does in other places where these strategies are not always used.”