A group of community leaders and elected officials meet in a weekly teleconference facilitated by the Audrain County Health Department. Updates are shared in the roundtable discussion. The main topic April 29 was the reopening process for organizations, agencies and businesses.


Gov. Mike Parson last week announced the state’s reopening plan, which started Monday. The health department released its reopening mitigation plan April 27. The health department also updates a testing dashboard on its website and Facebook page on a daily basis.


The health department started to normalize its operations Monday. All services conducted at the department will return, but the doors will remain closed to limit the number of visitors at one time, Administrator Sandra Hewlett said.


"The only thing that will remain remote and drive-thru is the WIC program because that brings such a large volume of people on one given day a week," she said.


All guests to the health department will be required to sign a visitor log, will have their temperature taken and be provided hand sanitizer. The log helps with contract tracing, Hewlett said.


As of Sunday morning, 94 residents were tested. Only one person has tested positive and they have recovered. The remaining 93 tests were negative. Anyone who had contact with the positive patient are no longer being monitored for symptoms, either. They remain to not have symptoms, Hewlett said.


"As of 4 weeks ago now, the state stopped reporting negative cases. They are only reporting to us the positive," she said. "So, we could probably have three times the number that were tested."


Nursing facilities such as Pin Oaks and the Missouri Veterans Home will maintain their quarantine status, despite the reopening order, to help protect residents. Pin Oaks continues to take staff temperatures and vendors are not allowed inside.


Nursing homes after having N-95 mask fit tests have purchased their own fit test units, Hewlett said. They also have learned how to make orders through the national stockpile, she said. The early adoption of quarantine procedures is major positive for the county, she added.


Some businesses have created a visitor log to aid in contract tracing, Hewlett said. Businesses that already have visitor logs are those with close contacts, such as barbers, salons and tattoo parlors, among others, she said.


The health department has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment and has made a second order from the strategic national stockpile.


SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital — Audrain continues to have its drive-thru facility at its main entrance. There currently are not plans to open the hospital to visitors just yet, and discussions about welcoming back volunteers are planned closer to June.


The Mexico Area Family YMCA will reopen May 11. It is a partial reopen. The wellness center and walking track will have a 20-person capacity. The gymnasium will be used as an overflow walking track. The locker rooms will remain closed, along with the pool. Other closures include the batting cages and pickleball courts.


Arthur Center Community Health continues to test. The doors remain closed and patients are being prescreened over the phone before they come to the facility. The clinic is continuing to conduct telemedicine to limit the number of guests to the facility. The pharmacy is operating as a drive-thru.


Missouri Military Academy will continue its contained campus through the end of semester.


Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce is taking the city’s lead in its plans for reopening its office. The office will remain locked, though guests can ring the doorbell on the Jefferson Street side of the building. The chamber continues to email notices to business owners about reopening plans. Business owners wanted to know if they should follow the governor’s plan or if they should have more restrictive measures, chamber director Dana Keller said.


"We are following at minimum what the governor says, but every business owner has the right to run their business the way they see fit," Hewlett said. "So, if they want to do something more restrictive, we need to respect that."


The Audrain County Emergency Management Agency is continuing its emergency operations center meetings, which happen three times per week. The agency is helping distribute protective equipment.


Little Dixie Fire Protection District will reopen volunteer training on Thursdays starting May 14.


Churches are making their own plans with regard in how to open. Centennial Baptist Church plans to limit its in-person congregation size to 50 people based on its sanctuary size, the Rev. Bryce Kristofferson said.


Central Missouri Community Action’s family resource center and head start programs remain closed. Services through the agency continue, however, such as utility assistance.


All of the The Mexico Ledger’s coronavirus coverage is being provided free to our readers. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to The Mexico Ledger at https://www.mexicoledger.com/subscribenow. Help keep local businesses afloat at supportlocal.usatoday.com.