Columbia Health Director Stephanie Browning laid out for the City Council on Monday her plan for how the county will continue to reopen gradually over the next few months.
Browning said there were five new COVID-19 cases in the county since Saturday. Currently, there are seven COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county. One of those is a Boone County resident, two are in the ICU and none are on a ventilator, she said.
Despite the rise in cases since Saturday, Browning said the overall progress in the county gave her confidence that further lessening of restrictions could begin as early as next week.
While businesses will be able to open up further if current COVID case trends remain, Browning still wants them to follow social distancing guidelines.
"We have to continue social distancing for awhile," she said.
Browning gave an overview of probable next steps, which she said she plans to also share with the Boone County Commission.
From May 26 to June 22, restaurants, churches, retail stores, gyms, fitness centers, bars, movie theaters, conferences/meetings/training and entertainment venues will be allowed to open with 50% occupancy and social distancing guidelines. However, bars will not be allowed to offer counter service. The county has yet to determine what the limitations will be after this period but will do so based on the number of cases and other relevant data.
From May 26 to Aug. 24, pools attended by staff such as a lifeguard will be required to follow social distancing guidelines and those without staff will be limited to 25 people.
From May 26 to July 23, personal care services will be limited to 25 people in a single location or a minimum of 50% occupancy, whichever is less. From July 24 to Aug. 24, they will just be asked to follow social distancing guidelines to the greatest extent possible.
From May 26 to Aug. 24, visitors will be forbidden in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, except to provide critical assistance or be present for end of life circumstances.
From May 26 to June 22, noncontact sports and activities will be allowed with a maximum of 50 spectators or 50% of the normal occupancy, whichever comes first. Noncontact sports practices will be allowed with a maximum of 25 people.
At a previous meeting, the council had passed an ordinance that forbade all in-person public comments and allowed them to be sent via email during the pandemic. It passed another ordinance that put a hold on certain development applications. It repealed both of these ordinances Monday night.
At the end of the meeting, Mayor Brian Treece read several comments from members of the public expressing anger and discontent with the city’s COVID-19 restrictions. Several citizens in attendance also spoke about the restrictions.