Health Department catches up as active COVID-19 cases decline | COVID-19

Active cases of COVID-19 have decreased, giving the Columbia Boone/County Public Health and Human Services time to catch up with case investigations and contact tracing, according to a report given by Health Department Director Stephanie Browning at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Browning said on average it takes 48 hours from the time a person tests positive in Boone County for the Health Department to initiate contact. From there, contact tracing is able to be completed within 24 hours.

Scott Clardy, assistant Health Department director, said he worries not enough people are being tested and therefore the decline in new cases may point to cases going unreported as opposed to fewer individuals being sick.

Browning met with bar and restaurant representatives to talk about the current regulations that were amended last week. It was safer, according to the representatives, to keep bars and restaurants open later to prevent students from hosting their own gatherings. They reasoned that at least with patrons at bars and restaurants, they could ensure that social distancing guidelines were being enforced.

The bar and restaurant representatives said they want to be allowed to stay open until midnight, but Browning said it was too premature to consider that option. Right now, bars and restaurants have to close by 10:30 p.m.

“I think they were really respectful of my concerns,” Browning said of the representatives.

To speed up the case investigation and contact tracing process, the Health Department is looking into getting an agreement with Twilio, a text-based service. It would work to speed up the rate of its contact-tracing process. Browning said people are hesitant to answer a call from an unknown number but that Twilio’s ability to text confidentially would help alleviate that obstacle.

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