Six of the eight latest cases of COVID-19 in Greene County are travel-related, according to the director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. During a press briefing Tuesday, Clay Goddard said they traveled domestically by driving.
The cases are still being investigated. The health department is still working to find an epidemiological link to one of the cases, he said, and another case is a close contact of a known case from another local county.
One of the cases went out in public while symptomatic. That person visited the Walmart on E. Kearney on May 11 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for about an hour. And, on May 14, the person visited the Dollar General at around 12:30 p.m. Goddard said anyone who was at those locations on those dates are at low risk of getting COVID-19, but they should monitor for symptoms.
And Goddard expects there to be additional cases from the patients who had traveled, including those who traveled with them and those who had contact with them.
"We can't say this enough," said Goddard. "While we are relaxing restrictions here, COVID-19 is not over. We must still be vigilant, we must still be cautious, and travel is not advised right now."
When local residents go somewhere else and bring the disease back, Goddard said it undermines efforts being made locally to control the spread of COVID-19.
If someone has to travel for essential reasons, they should continue to practice social distancing and frequently wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.
When the community began to reopen, he said, they knew COVID-19 was still here and that other communities were seeing an increase in cases, so an increase in cases is not surprising. But he said the number of cases is just a lens through which they look at the illness. What they base their decisions on are capacities: The ability to provide good care without going to crisis standards of care, the ability to test and the ability to do the containment strategies of quarantine and isolation.
Everyone needs to be their own advocate if they choose to be around groups of people, and they should take steps to protect their health and health of others, according to Goddard. They should consider wearing masks, he said.
"If we go out, act as if we are sick and those around us are sick," said Goddard.
The City of Springfield has added information to the Dashboard for COVID-19 on its website. It now includes confirmed cases and deaths, probable cases and deaths, and total cases and deaths. The Dashboard also now includes the total number of diagnostic tests performed in Greene County.
Probable cases are those that have tested positive for antibodies that form as part of the body's immune system to a coronavirus and, after an investigation, meet general case definitions set by the CDC, according to Goddard. That latter part is important because the common cold is in the coronavirus family and also produces those antibodies.
He said anyone who pursues antibody testing should do research and at the very least choose a test that the FDA has given emergency use authorization to.
Goddard stressed that people should stay home if they're sick.
"Remember what this disease needs," he said. "It needs healthy people interacting with sick people. And, as we see that intermingling happening, we're going to see more cases."