Boone County is extending its health order for 14 more days to prevent further coronavirus transmission.
Health Department Director Stephanie Browning extended the current order on Thursday. The Columbia city council voted unanimously to approve this extension in a meeting on Monday night.
The current order was created on Sept. 16, and it was set to expire today before it was extended by Browning.
Boone County positive cases have decreased since the order was created. On Sept. 16, the 14-day rolling average of cases was 92.43, according to the Columbia Missourian. On Oct. 4, the 14-day rolling average was 34.36.
Boone County Assistant Health Director Scott Clardy said while positive cases are decreasing, less testing could play a role in this decrease.
“When you test less people, you’re going to most likely see less cases, so that’s part of the concern,” Clardy said. “We are not completely sure that the drop we’re seeing is actually real or is just an artifact of less testing being done.”
Clardy also said increasing hospitalizations due to the coronavirus is another factor for the precautionary health order. There are now 66 people hospitalized in Boone County, according to the health department dashboard.
Another motivation to extend the order is to increase the chance for Columbia Public Schools students to return to in-person learning. According to the Columbia Missourian, the CPS 14-day new case per 10,000 people rate was 34.1 on Monday. CPS has stated that a 14-day rate per 10,000 of less than 50 could lead to in-person learning.
Restaurants and bars are still required to close by 10:30 p.m. and have a capacity of less than 50%, according to the original Boone County health order.
Executive Director of the Downtown Community Improvement District Nickie Davis said while businesses normally thrive during this season, the extended health order will make that more difficult.
“They are relying on our community right now to continue to support them,” Davis said. “But as much as our community is amazing here in Columbia, it’s not going to be anywhere near what a normal game year was that would help them get through the winter months.”
The health order extension is set to last until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 20.