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COVID surges in Jefferson County as school districts make plans for new school year

Health Department officials announced COVID numbers last were was similar to those in mid-October, right before the county’s biggest surge

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — Jefferson County Health Department officials say the county is back in the COVID red zone.

Health officials announced Wednesday they are very concerned about the direction COVID numbers are going in their community just weeks before school starts. Officials believe it’s all because of the Delta variant.

Health officials say last week’s numbers are similar to those Jefferson County experienced in mid-October, right before the county’s biggest surge last year.

Jefferson County Health Department created a graphic which communicates their concerns.

It reads, “Kids CAN get COVID. In July 267 Jeffco kids tested positive for COVID. In June, it was 59. That’s a 352% increase.”

“Our total cases in the last seven days per 100,000 residents is 220.89," Brianne Zwiener, Jefferson County Health Department officer, said. "That is well over the threshold to be in red status. That threshold is 100 cases, so we're over double.”

Zwiener acknowledged it is disappointing news.

“It’s a little concerning,” she said. “We definitely want to continue to provide information, awareness and opportunity to get vaccinated and provide people with prevention measures as much as we can.”

In the parking lot of Save-A-Lot in Pevely, Jefferson County residents voice their concerns.

Jennifer Reich was asked if she makes a habit of wearing a mask.

“I’m asthmatic and diabetic,” she said, “so I don’t normally go places where people aren’t masked.”

Nikki Barker said, “I think as it is affecting kids right now, we need to pay attention to that because we don’t know what it’s going to do to children. So, mask up.”

In the meantime, Jefferson County school administrators are formulating their own back-to-school plans.

“Especially as we're gearing up towards back-to-school with CDC releasing new guidance, as well as DESE (Missouri Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education), we make sure that we connect with those superintendents and provide them the information and the guidance recommendations," Zwiener said. "Ultimately, it is their decision on what they think is best for their staff and students.”

Dunklin school board members heard superintendent Dr. Clint Freeman’s back-to-school plans at their meeting, Thursday evening.

Fox C-6 will be releasing plans to their community, tomorrow.

Festus had previously decided to start school mask-optional, however, no final decision has been made. Festus hopes to announce, next week.

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