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This article is free to all readers because it includes information important to public safety and health in our community.

The Moniteau County Health Center on Tuesday reported the county's 14th death due to the coronavirus.

The deceased individual was in their 70s. Per a release from the Health Center, no further information about the individual will be released.

The latest COVID-19 death in Moniteau County follows a period of four straight weeks where more than 100 new cases have been added to the county's tally. As of 5:35 p.m. Tuesday, Moniteau County has 219 active cases of COVID-19 among its residents, nine of which are currently hospitalized.

In the past few days, total cases of the virus in the county since March have also eclipsed 1,000, now standing at 1,057 and climbing.

Due to the increasing number of cases, the Health Center was forced to close for routine public health services until further notice, effective Wednesday, to allow its staff time to initiate and complete contact tracing. The Health Center is being aiding in the effort by the Department of Health and Senior Services.

The Health Center noted earlier this week most of its investigations are traced back to clusters of positive cases in a workplace, at schools and social gatherings, and via household or close contact exposure to a known positive case.

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It also noted the county is seeing increased interaction at social gatherings, especially where social distancing is not easily maintained. The Health Center asked members of the public to reconsider hosting or attending social gatherings that bring people together outside of normal interactions.

The Health Center urged everyone to take actions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including avoiding close contact with people who are sick; avoiding touching one's eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; washing hands with soap and water regularly; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces regularly; staying home if one feels sick; and adhering to proper social distancing by remaining 6 feet away from others and wearing a facial covering when engaging in tasks away from home.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include 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, or diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website or the CDC website.

Missouri operates a statewide COVID-19 hotline at 877-435-8411 from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week.

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