Jefferson County feedback '50/50' on masks, more resistance to contract tracing

There were 35 new cases Thursday, more than all of last week which had 32 cases reported.

Michael Calhoun
July 10, 2020 - 2:14 am
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    HILLSBORO (KMOX) -- Jefferson County's health director says businesses are asking for a mask mandate, but the County Council hasn't been able to assemble a quorum to discuss whether to issue one or not.

    Kelley Vollmar says she doesn't believe a mandate would change minds about mask-wearing, but says businesses are telling her they'd like the government's backing.

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    "My goal is not to have to mandate. I don't want to mandate," she said. "I want people to do the right thing."

    Feedback to her office on masks has been 50/50. This, as the county just experienced its largest single-day increase in positive COVID cases.

    The total of 35 new cases Thursday is more than the 32 new cases in all of last week.

    "As it circulates throughout the community, it will find people who are vulnerable. Our hospitalizations and deaths will increase. It's just a matter of time that they haven't. We're waiting for it," Vollmar said in a live streamed briefing.

    Complicating efforts to slow the spread, she says more Jefferson County residents are being resistant to contact tracing. She calls it "extremely detrimental" when patients who test positive refuse to share where they work or who they've visited.

    Even among the forthcoming, though, Vollmar says it's now more difficult to trace back. Early in the pandemic, people usually shared that they'd had contact with one to five people.

    "We are starting to see much more complex cases," she described. "We're now looking at things like 25-30 contacts for an individual because they went to the movies, went out to dinner, then went to a party with some friends, weren't wearing a mask and were interacting with a group of people."

    Jefferson County Council members have an in-person meeting scheduled for Monday, July 13th. Vollmar says masks are just one of several mechanisms to slow the spread which they can debate.

    Whatever is decided, she says: "It's a joint effort. We have got to work together."

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