FULTON - Callaway County was identified as an "emerging hotspot" by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday.

An emerging hotspot is defined as a community with a high likelihood to become a hotspot in the next one to seven days.

This comes as Fulton, the largest community in Callaway County, ends its 90-day mask mandate Monday. 

Fulton Mayor Lowe Cannell wasn't aware of the report before KOMU 8 contacted him but said he's considering it along with other sources. 

"There's a lot of data out there and a lot of information that you can get..." Cannell said. "But for me, like any news, I kind of like to get several different sources if I can, to find out a little bit more information."

Cases by county

Missouri average daily cases by county

He said the numbers he is most concerned with are specific to Fulton. He said he receives daily updates from the Callaway County Health Administrator but doesn't make that information publicly available. 

The mayor reported that from Feb. 11 to Wednesday, the number of COVID-19 cases in Fulton went from 48 to 27. 

"So that's literally a week apart, and it's almost half, so that's a big deal," Cannell said. 

In Fulton, residents had mixed opinions on the mask mandate ending. 

"We will continue to require masks inside of the store, and that's basically to keep our customers safe, keep ourselves safe," said Rebecca Morgan, owner of Well Read Books.  

"I am happy that it's being lifted, it makes me feel like there's some progress being made," Fulton resident Sallie Humphrey said. 

Mayor Cannell said the Fulton City Council made the decision not to extend the 90-day mask mandate at their last meeting based on data from the county. 

"We are getting good, you know, pretty much daily updates on Fulton's numbers, so that's helpful for us to know what decisions to make for Fulton," Cannell said.

The mayor said despite the mask mandate ending, he will continue to wear a mask where social distancing isn't possible. 

"Our council members are there to represent us but also be an example - myself as well. I take that role very seriously," Cannell said.

He also said he feels that despite the data from DHHS, he is optimistic cases will go down in the coming months. 

"We're feeling great that we're about to whip this thing..." Canell said. "There's light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like, personally, within a few months we're going to be looking at this in the rearview mirror."

KOMU 8 reached out to the Callaway County Health Department three times but didn't hear back by the time of publication. 

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The Missourian wants to honor the lives lost to COVID-19 in our community. If you have lost a loved one to COVID-19 in Boone County, please share about them in this form. Our hope is to be able to publish some brief stories about all of the residents lost to COVID-19.

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at mhart@mail.missouri.edu.

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