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Health center answers questions on Facebook

The Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center held a Q&A on April 30 to answer questions about the coronavirus pandemic. Director Jane Wernsman, Epidemiologist Autumn Grim and Health Educator Maria Davis answered questions  Facebook Live and the video remains viewable on its Facebook page.

During the Q&A, Werns-man outlined the Center’s communication with those who have tested positive to COVID-19. She said they contact the individual and give them a packet including quarantine and disinfecting instructions.

“We are in daily contact on some of those cases, but [contact them] at least twice weekly,” Wernsman said. She added that they also ask if anyone else in their household is becoming symptomatic.

“Everyone has been very cooperative and very understanding and very eager to self quarantine themselves and take that self responsibility on maintaining that quarantine,” Wernsman said.

Grim outlined how they also start a contact tracing investigation into each case to determine who else may have been exposed. She said individuals who tested positive give them a list of contacts, and the health center makes contact with those on the list.

“Many times that can be one to three people but in some situations – if someone has attended a larger gathering, that can be up to 100 or more,” Grim said. “It just kind of depends on the situation.”

Wernsman also spoke about the importance of wearing a mask in public to stop the spread of the disease, saying that masks help stop those who are already infected from spreading the virus.

Grim added that up to 50 percent of people who have the disease are asymptomatic and may not know they are carriers. “That’s one of the reasons that we recommend wearing masks, because people might be transmitting without knowing they have it.”

Grim also answered a question on travel, saying it was still inadvisable to travel for nonessential reasons. She added that domestic travel will probably open up a bit more in the next couple of months, with international travel taking longer.

Grim explained that a vaccine will take at least a year, with six months needed to see if the vaccine is safe and an additional six months of testing to see if it is effective. “It takes time to make sure that those treatments and vaccines are safe and effective,” Grim said.

Wernsman spoke about the new guidelines that went into effect after the stay-at-home order was lifted, saying most of them haven’t changed. “The guidelines are still the same, as far as the recommendations on social distancing measures, staying 6 feet apart, trying to avoid close contact of individuals of non-family members and washing hands.”

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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