Labor Day will mark six months since state officials were notified of Missouri’s first positive case of COVID-19. To date, more than a million Missourians have been tested for the virus with 8.7% of those testing positive. This Labor Day weekend, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is urging individuals to take personal responsibility to protect themselves and others around them.
DHSS continues to see a significant downward shift in the age range of individuals newly testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. As many college-aged students have returned to school and have resumed gathering in groups, reports of COVID-19 have increased in some college towns. Through August alone, nearly 7,000 Missourians ages 18 to 24 have tested positive.
“We are closely monitoring the impact young adults are having on our overall case growth and increased positivity rate in Missouri, as well as how that may be impacting other age groups,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “We need young people to avoid spreading the virus, which can happen even without having symptoms, to their families, coworkers and friends who might be more vulnerable. Stay six feet apart from those you do not live with, wear a mask and wash your hands well and often.”
In some of Missouri’s college communities, such as Greene County, positivity rates have soared as high as 45 percent just among the 18 to 24 population.
As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the more an individual interacts with people he or she doesn’t live with and the closer and longer each interaction is, the higher the risk is of getting infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
“People tend to let their guard down during these long holiday weekends,” said Williams. “We don’t want to see people become complacent. We don’t want anyone to contract COVID-19, young or old. There are those that may be considered ‘high risk’ and ‘low risk,’ for adverse outcomes, but there is no population that is at ‘no risk.’ Additionally, while it is more likely that young, healthy people may have mild symptoms and quick recoveries, they may unknowingly carry COVID-19 to someone who is unable to fight off the virus.”
DHSS launched a public awareness campaign this week that highlights the stories of six Missourians who have recovered from COVID-19. The goal of the campaign is to amplify the message that while most young, healthy individuals do recover physically, it does not happen with ease. It can involve emotional struggles due to isolation and virus-associated stigma, financial hardships, and disruption of work, school and activities.
DHSS also wants to make the public aware that there is a marked increase in positive cases being reported today due to delayed reporting by one laboratory that reflects at least a few hundred cases over a 4-month time period. The laboratory did not report any test results to DHSS until just recently. DHSS is currently working to analyze this data in more detail. Additionally, 17 deaths have been added to the COVID-19 DHSS Dashboard today. On a weekly basis, incoming death certificate data is analyzed by DHSS. Based on any COVID-19-related findings, deaths that occurred in previous weeks may be added as COVID-19-related deaths. Deaths added to the dashboard each day are not necessarily indicative of deaths that have occurred in the previous 24 hours.
For more information on COVID-19 in Missouri, visit health.mo.gov/coronavirus.