News Briefs

Missouri county stops COVID social media posts over ‘negative, insulting’ comments

By: - October 26, 2020 9:00 am

A sign marks the exit of a drive-through coronavirus testing site at The Crossing in Columbia, Missouri, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. The testing site was operated by the Missouri National Guard and part of the state’s mobile testing initiative. (Photo by Tessa Weinberg)

A Missouri county enduring the state’s fourth-highest rate for new COVID-19 infections will stop posting local data on Facebook because of responses that attack its work and raise conspiracy theories about the disease.

Ste. Genevieve County, a southeast Missouri county with 17,894 people, has added 195 new cases since Sept. 30 and 93 in the past week. That is a 97 percent increase in cases for the month and 30.7 percent in the past week.

As of Monday morning, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported Ste. Genevieve County had 396 total cases of COVID-19 since the first was reported in the spring.

The rate of new infections over the past seven days, 519.7 per 100,000 people, is below only Moniteau, Cole and Osage counties among the 117 local health jurisdictions tracked by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

In a post to its Facebook page on Saturday, the St. Genevieive County Health Department stated it would start posting its local data on its website but it would not report through Facebook.

“The responses received on the Facebook posts are getting out of hand with all the negative, insulting, and argumentative comments,” the post states. “Not to mention the ‘conspiracy theories.’ Unfortunately we can not make everyone happy or accommodate to what everyone thinks they ‘deserve’ or ‘have the right to.’”

Those who disagree with the numbers or other data should do their own research, the department stated. The department, with 10 employees, is doing its best to keep people informed and maintain all other services including flu response, the post stated.

“We are mentally tired and after working countless hours trying to stay on top of all this, we are yelled at, complained about, and spoke to in the most disrespectful of ways,” the post stated. “Not to mention after working up Covid-19 cases and making recommendations for 8 months, people seem to think they are the experts and we know nothing.”

In its Monday report, the state health agency reported 1,527 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths, bringing the totals reported since Friday morning to more than 6,400 new COVID-19 cases and 122 additional deaths from the coronavirus disease.

In a news release on Saturday, the department stated that it “received a relatively high number of test and case records Thursday and Friday compared to earlier in the week, leading to a high day-over-day increase in total cases and tests.”

The department reported 2,918 cases on Saturday and stated that many were actually from Oct. 18 through Thursday.

The new deaths, 113 reported Saturday, were part of a regular, weekly review of death certificates and includes 108 fatalities from that review, with two deaths from August, 26 from September and 80 earlier in October.

The new deaths pushed the state’s per capita death rate to 25th nationally among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, eclipsing California, Ohio, North Dakota and Tennessee.

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Rudi Keller
Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller covers the state budget and the legislature. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he spent 22 of his 32 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics for the Columbia Daily Tribune, where he won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.