"We are just beginning to see how hospitalizations and community spread have been affected by Thanksgiving, so we need to extend the current protocols as we monitor the situation to see what will be needed in the coming weeks," Browning said.
The surging number of infections is increasing the strain on the community. On Dec. 3, Boone County recorded a new single-day high of 226 COVID-19 cases. Additionally, the number of Boone County residents with illnesses severe enough to require hospitalization has risen steadily. In November alone, 106 Boone County patients were hospitalized - that’s higher than the number of residents hospitalized due to COVID-19 in September and October combined. As of Dec. 2, there were 157 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized in Boone County. Forty-six of those were in the ICU, and 20 were on ventilators. This rapid increase is further straining the Boone County health care system, causing a reported "yellow" status for hospital capacity.
"If we are going to protect our friends, our family, and our community, these public health measures are necessary to slow the spread of the pandemic. We’re all tired, but these protocols are the roadmap for a faster and more sustainable recovery," Browning added.
As a reminder, the current COVID-19 protocols are as follows:
- Face masks must be worn by those over the age of 10 when social distancing cannot be maintained. This applies to both within Columbia city limits and within Boone County.
- Maintain social distance from those outside your household at all times.
- To increase safety and maximize social distancing within the establishment, all businesses are strongly encouraged to operate at a capacity less than otherwise permitted. Businesses are also encouraged to provide services remotely or in a manner maximizing social distancing such as curbside, pickup, delivery, etc.
- Entertainment venues, bars, and restaurants serving alcohol must close by 10:30 p.m.
- Restaurants and bars must maintain social distancing between tables. No more than 10 people may be seated at a table. Patrons must be seated at all times; the exceptions are when entering/exiting the business or visiting a restroom facility. When not seated, patrons must wear a face mask.
- Sporting events are limited to 100 spectators or less. Athletes must remain in stable groups of 50.
- Any large group gathering or event held at a business or institution open to the public is limited to 50% occupancy or 100 people, whichever is less. This includes events in hotels, conference/event centers, places of worship, etc.
- All public and private gatherings not described within the Orders are limited to 20 people or fewer. Face masks must be worn and social distancing maintained at all times at all gatherings.