Dr. Williams urges younger Missourians to wear masks and to maintain social distancing

Dr Deborah Birx with DHSS Director Dr Randall Williams

Missouri’s health director says it’s important to target younger residents with a specific message of the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing.

State Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams told Capitol reporters on Tuesday that he had a discussion with White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, about the issue. They also discussed the importance of testing, on Tuesday.

“We talked about the fact that last week, 45 percent of our cases in Missouri were in three counties: St. Louis, Jackson and St. Charles. So for the whole state of 6.1 million, 45 percent were in three counties,” Williams says.

Dr. Williams says it’s crucial for 20 to 30 year-olds to wear a mask and to practice social distancing. He also says staff from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been in St. Louis and Kansas City, helping to battle the pandemic.

DHSS says Missouri has now had 70,675 confirmed COVID cases, up from about 68,000 earlier this week.

The state health director says Missouri ranks 16th in the nation for COVID-19 cases, per 100,000 people. Director Williams says Missouri ranked 14th last week.

“We are 14th in the United States for new cases per 100,000. That’s 14th out of 50 states. And we are 18th for our positivity rate over the last seven days,” says Williams.

Dr. Williams says Missouri’s COVID cases are increasing by about 1,100 per day, lower than the national average of 1,600 per day.

He continues to emphasize the importance of the “box-in” strategy for the state’s long-term care facilities. Dr. Williams says 115,000 tests have been conducted in Missouri long-term care facilities, using that strategy.

The “box-in” testing strategy involves testing, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine.

Missouri is one of the 20 states that Dr. Birx has visited in the past six weeks, to provide guidance on COVID-19. She participated in a roundtable discussion with Governor Mike Parson and Cabinet members in Jefferson City on Tuesday. They were joined by health, school, and community leaders.

During a press conference in Jefferson City after Tuesday’s roundtable, Dr. Birx emphasized the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing. She is also suggesting that Missouri follows Texas’ model, which requires masks in counties with more than 20 cases.

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Brian Hauswirth

About Brian Hauswirth

Brian Hauswirth began as Missourinet news director in July 2016. He anchors daily newscasts, simulcasts and special reports from the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, where he primarily covers the Missouri House and numerous legislative committee hearings.