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Missouri DHSS urges continued vaccination as close monitoring of Delta variant continues
Missouri is experiencing a rise in individuals contracting the Delta variant (B.1.617.2, first detected in India) of the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2. It was announced by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention yesterday that the Delta variant has been reclassified as a “variant of concern” in the United States. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has been closely monitoring these developments and has been on the national leading edge of aggressive wastewater testing for variants of concern. 
The Delta variant joins the B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), B.1.427/B.1.429 (Epsilon) variants circulating in the United States which are already classified as variants of concern.
Deemed highly transmissible, the Delta virus has been already detected in over 70 countries of the world, and is projected to become dominant worldwide. It is also causing more serious illness and hospitalizations among those who have not been vaccinated. 
Monitoring the spread of emerging variants in the United States relies on widespread, rapid sequencing. While this national effort is still somewhat limited, it is clear that the variant has become prevalent in communities throughout Missouri. In February, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) began testing wastewater samples to look for the presence of these variants. These testing results are displayed in a new layer of the COVID-19 sewershed surveillance StoryMap.
The unpredictability of emerging variants is cause for continuation of infection prevention precautions. 
“Our greatest concern in Missouri is areas with lower vaccine uptake,” said Robert Knodell, Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). “With this variant being easier to spread and possibly causing more severe illnesses among unvaccinated people of all ages, vaccinations are the best way to stop this virus in its tracks.”
This recent rise of the highly transmissible Delta variant underscores the importance of continued testing for COVID-19 of all those with related symptoms, as well as those who have been exposed to the virus but may not have symptoms. 
Social distancing and appropriate masking remain important and effective public health countermeasures. Vaccination is the most effective and long-lasting tool for protection from this infection. DHSS continues to encourage anyone age 12 and up to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Get the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and where to get vaccinated at MOStopsCovid.com.


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Reminder: If you are awaiting results from being tested for COVID-19, please isolate until you know the results to reduce the spread of this virus.

If you are positive we recommend you quarantine 10 days from the day symptoms started, and continuing to be cautious up to 4 days after quarantine is over.  If you do not have symptoms, quarantine will start based on the day of testing. Any close contacts will also need to quarantine for 10 days based on last day of contact with a positive case.

All county residents who test positive regardless of what county you tested in, will receive a call from the health dept. If it has been more than 5 days and you have not received a call, please call us.

How can people protect themselves?

There are steps people can take to reduce their risk of getting any viral respiratory infections. These include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces – EPA list of disinfectants

It is also important for people to stay at home away from others if they are sick.

Should I wear a face covering?

If you need to leave your home or place of residence and go to a public setting where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), wearing a cloth face covering is recommended, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Homemade cloth face coverings offer some protection and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others when speaking, sneezing, or coughing. The CDC recommends this as increasing evidence indicates that individuals in close proximity to others may transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 without having developed symptoms themselves. Face coverings are not a replacement for other measures, such as good hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette, avoiding close contact with others, and obeying social distancing orders. This guide provides information about cloth face coverings, including:

  • Why this is being recommended now
  • How to make a cloth face covering with items found around the house
  • What precautions you should know about
  • How an employer should use this guidance

What is Social Distancing?

Social distancing is the practice of reducing contact between people to slow the spread of infections or disease. According to the Stay at Home Order by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Missourians should are ordered to avoid social gatherings of more than ten (10) people. “Social gatherings” shall mean any planned or spontaneous event or convening that would bring together more than ten (10) people in a single space at the same time.

What is Contact Tracing?

Contact tracing involves the tracing and monitoring of close contacts of infected people, and support the quarantine of contacts and isolation of infected people.

What are the symptoms?

These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. DHSS will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19, call your health care professional.

If you have been notified by public health authorities that you might have been exposed, follow instructions provided by your local health department.

Additional information from the CDC

How is it spread?

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • The air by coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
  • Rarely, fecal contamination