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Around 300 COVID-19 tests were processed in Boone Health’s laboratories, from Monday to Wednesday morning.
COLUMBIA – COVID-19 testing numbers are up this week in Boone County, most likely as result of the Thanksgiving gatherings, Boone Health said Wednesday.
According to Dr. Phillip Beck, an attending physician in Boone Health’s infectious diseases department, around 300 COVID-19 tests were processed in the hospital’s laboratories, from Monday to Wednesday morning.
That unit has been testing between 400 and 500 people per week during the month of November. Yet this week, COVID-19 tests have been high in demand, representing almost a 50% increase so far when compared to the weeks before.
“The increase in the testing is probably related to Thanksgiving gatherings,” Dr. Beck said.
The main diseases his department is concerned about after last week’s gatherings are COVID-19, the flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Regarding COVID-19, not only have testing numbers increased, but also the positivity rate.
“We are gonna see, you know probably at least, based on the right now numbers, a 25% increase in the amount of people testing positive total,” Dr. Beck said.
As far as prevention goes, Ryan Sheehan, Columbia/Boone County Health and Human Services public information specialist, said that both COVID-19 and flu vaccines are available to the community.
He said residents can take both shots this winter at multiple locations in Columbia.
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Columbia has also seen an ascending trend in flu cases for the past two weeks. Boone Health alone has been diagnosing an average of 80 flu cases per week, which represents double or triple of the previous weeks’ rates, Dr. Beck said.
In addition, this cold season has RSV as an extra pressing point in health departments, especially for pediatric units.
“RSV is of particular concern right now, given the huge amount of cases both in Missouri and across the country,” Dr. Beck said.
So far, debates among the scientific community about RSV’s increased cases don’t point to a solid direction about why they are happening with such intensity, Dr. Beck said.
The reasons behind the sudden surge aren’t conclusive yet, but the reality is ICU and ERs are “swamped” with kids with RSV, Dr. Beck said.
“Anytime we have a lot of gathering, especially indoors, that can increase the spread of different viruses, COVID-19 particularly, but also historically, influenza and RSV,” he said.
For this time of the year, Dr. Beck advises adults to be cautious when they have any unusual respiratory symptoms, as RSV is easy to manage in adults but represents a much higher risk to children.
The next occasions on his radar which could represent a peak in respiratory infectious diseases cases are December’s holidays, such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve.
To avoid the increased COVID-19 positivity rates faced in 2020 and 2021 during this time of the year, Dr. Beck recommends individuals remain cautious in upcoming festivities.
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Currently in Columbia