Missouri health director Randall Williams said Tuesday that Boone County is handling COVID-19 well in relation to other counties.

As a whole, he said Missouri is fortunate to have fewer cases, hospitalizations and deaths when compared to other states.

Williams participated in a webinar hosted by the Boone County Medical Society on Tuesday and spoke about how Missouri is handling COVID-19. At the end of the webinar, he said: “Remember our new state motto: Be like Boone County.”

The county is doing well in managing cases and deaths in proportion to its population when compared to similarly populated counties, like Jefferson and Clay counties, he said. Still, caution is needed during the county and state’s recovery from the pandemic.

Boone County has seen 40 new cases from June 1 to Sunday, and 30 of those new cases stemmed from contact with a known case, according to a news release Monday from the county’s Health Department. Contacts with known cases include exposures to a case within the same household.

The data suggests that county residents are possibly relaxing safety guidelines when meeting with friends and family at social gatherings, according to the release. The Health Department urges that people follow social distancing and mitigation guidelines as they interact more with others as the county and state reopen.

Also Tuesday, The Associated Press reported that a World Health Organization official walked back comments she made Monday suggesting that transmission of COVID-19 by asymptomatic persons was “rare.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, the U.N. health agency’s technical lead on the virus pandemic, insisted that she was referring only to a few studies, not a complete picture, in the comments.

Van Kerkhove’s remarks had raised confusion and questions among outside experts and health officials who have recommended, and in some places required, that people wear masks to try to prevent the virus from spreading, the AP reported.

In its news release Monday, the Boone County Health Department said contact tracing is important for managing the increased number of cases, and asked for public support of contact tracing efforts .

Increasing Missouri’s testing capabilities has been a major focus for recovery, and the number of tests conducted has reflected that focus.

Williams said that Missouri is averaging 8,000-9,000 tests per day in the last week. Testing is one of the four main pillars for the state’s pandemic recovery, the others being personal protective equipment, hospitalization and data analytics.

However, having enough PPE available for hospitals and Missouri businesses continues to be a difficulty. Williams said that while the state is seeing around 150 new cases of COVID-19 a day, that task of having enough PPE is a tough one.

“It just seems that need is infinite,” he said during Tuesday’s webinar.

When asked if Missouri is currently stockpiling PPE, Williams said the state is trying.

“We’re not being nearly as successful as we wished we could be,” he said. “I mean, supply chain has not corrected itself, so the governor is committed to using Missouri companies to try to get us there.”

“And so that’s where we are,” he said. “We’re using Missouri companies to try to get us there, but no we are not there yet.”

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • General Assignment reporter, summer 2020. Studying data journalism. Reach me at bs2t6@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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