Ozark County residents are now urged to ‘self-shelter’ to help stop spread of COVID-19

Ozark County officials are now urging all Ozark County residents to stay home and “self-shelter” in an attempt to help curb the spread of COVID-19, a potentially deadly virus now categorized as a pandemic that continues to spread vigorously throughout the world.

More than 1 million people have been tested so far in the United States. At 9 a.m. Tuesday, near the Times’ press time, the Centers for Disease Control reported 140,904 confirmed cases nationwide and 2,405 deaths resulting from COVID-19. The World Health Organization reported 693,224 confirmed cases globally and 33,106 deaths. The Missouri Department of Health and Social Services reported 1,031 confirmed cases in Missouri and 13 deaths. 

Sunday, President Donald Trump announced an extension of federal social distancing guidelines for another month, now continuing the recommendation through the end of April. 

“This is based on modeling that shows the peak in fatalities will not arrive for another two weeks,” Trump said in a national address Sunday. “The same modeling also shows that by very vigorously following these guidelines we could save more than one million American lives….Our future is in our own hands, and the choices and sacrifices we make will determine the fate of this virus - and really, the fate of our victory.”

Trump said in his Sunday speech that if the United States had 100,000 or fewer deaths, it would constitute a “very good job.”

A COVID-19 hotline, 877-435-8411, is staffed with medical professionals and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 


Ozark Countians urged to ‘self-shelter’

Ozark County Health Department administrator Rhonda Suter, Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed, the Ozark County Commis-sioners and Ozark County Emergency Management Director Curtis Ledbetter met Monday morning to discuss what precautions the county should take concerning the virus. 

After the meeting, Ozark County issued a strong suggestion urging local residents to “self-shelter,” or stay at home except for essential businesses and errands including grocery shopping and pumping gas. 

Suter said Ozark County has not had any positive COVID-19 test results at this time (see information on testing below), but positive test results have occurred in two of the four counties adjoining Ozark County. 

“We want to be proactive and ask county residents to self-shelter (stay home). Please protect yourself and protect those who are providing essential services for you and your family and self-shelter,” Suter said in a Facebook post Monday afternoon. “…We need everyone’s help suppressing the COVID-19. Please self-shelter.”

Suter also urges residents to frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer made with at least 60 percent alcohol, to avoid touching their faces with unwashed hands and to maintain a 6-foot distance from anyone not regularly interacted with. 

The suggestion is not an official ordinance, but Suter said a county-wide ordinance can be passed in the future if residents do not stay home or if conditions worsen in the area.

For more information, call the Ozark County Health Department at 417-679-3334.


All local clinics now

have access to tests

All Ozark County clinics now have access to limited numbers of COVID-19 tests. Residents who believe they may have the virus should call the clinic before they arrive in order to be screened. Phone numbers for local clinics are:

Gainesville Medical Clinic: 417-679-4613

Missouri Ozarks 

Community Health - Gainesville: 417-679-2775

Theodosia Family Medical Clinic: 417-273-2300

Local test results

Suter said Monday afternoon that 15 people had been tested for COVID-19 in the Ozark County clinics listed here. Results were negative for 13 tests, and results were still pending for two tests. 

Suter has posted a daily update about the virus and testing results on her personal Facebook page and the Ozark County Health Department public Facebook page. 

Two adjoining counties, Baxter County, Arkansas, and Taney County, both have had residents test positive for the virus. As of Monday afternoon, no one in Douglas or Howell Counties had tested positive. 

Published here are statistics provided Monday afternoon by health departments in adjoining counties. The numbers include people tested at medical clinics in those counties. When residents travel outside their home county to be tested, the numbers are reflected in the county where they were tested. 

If a resident does test positive for COVID-19, the health department of his or her home county is immediately notified, and it will disseminate that information as quickly as possible. 

Baxter County, Arkansas: 1 to 4 positive cases and 13 negative cases. Information on the total number of tests administered or pending results was not available. 

Taney County: 70 tested (2 positive). Information on whether the remaining 68 were negative or pending was not available. 

Douglas County: 11 people tested (9 negative, 2 pending, 0 positive). 

Howell County: 127 people tested (94 negative, 33 pending, 0 positive).


Who should be tested?

Suter says the medical clinics in Ozark County, like  those nationwide, have to be selective in who they test. “It’s not just that the number of tests are limited, but it also has to do with bogging down the lab results. If everyone is tested, it takes longer to get the results back. There might be someone way down at the end of the list that really should have had their test results back quickly,” Suter said. 

Also, the CDC website says not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19.
“Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus.” 

The CDC says decisions about testing are being made at the discretion of state and local health departments and individual clinics. So it’s best to call your medical provider to discuss your symptoms and exposure and whether or not you should be tested or should self-quarantine.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423