The Perry County Public Health Department Board of Trustees took action Thursday, Sept. 9, to shift its priorities away from close contacts of COVID-19 to other COVID activities and priorities the health department has not focused on since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
“We understand that with this decision, schools may struggle with the recommendations that may be safe for students,” according to a board statement.
The health board then offered a three-pronged recommendation list.
To provide some guidance on this, the health department would recommend those expose be allowed to remain in school if:
1. A mask is worn for a minimum of 10 days after the last date of exposure when social distancing (three feet) from others is not possible
2. School personnel and parents closely monitor the individual for any symptoms of COVID-19, isolate them away from others immediately upon symptom development, and exclude them from school to seek COVID testing or an alternative diagnosis before returning to school.
3. Missouri State High School Activities Association guidelines are followed when it comes to participation in competitive play.
The decision came after the board met at the Catalyst Center for about an hour.
Health department director Liz House recommended the board of public change its focus.
“What I have asked them is for us to strongly dial back the very, very minimal that we have to do with regard to COVID and contact tracing for close contacts,” House announced at the Sept. 9 meeting. “We’re over 100 cases behind, we can’t even call positive cases in a timely manner to let them know things that they need to look out for when they need to go to the ER, when they need to call their doctor...”
The department just doesn’t have the capacity at this time to devote more resources to COVID-19 response, according to House.
“We don’t even have the capacity right now to offer vaccines for people that want them,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can, but not what we would like to.”
An estimated 30 individuals were in attendance, including three members of the Perry County District No. 32 Board of Education.
Several of those in attendance spoke publicly.
The next regularly scheduled Health Board meeting will take place Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 9 a.m.
The health department reported 157 active cases and a rolling average of 14.1 as of Sept. 12, though House said they were still 100 or more cases behind.
A reported 43.2 percent of Perry County residents ages 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
A total of 41.4 percent of those 18 and older are listed as “fully vaccinated” while 70.1 percent of those 65 and older are “fully vaccinated.”