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Hannibal doctors talk COVID-19 after recommendations for Missouri bar closures, mask mandate

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The White House coronavirus task force is calling the state of Missouri a "red zone."

They said community transmission is high in both rural and urban areas, which is why they've recommended bars be closed and a mask mandate be put in place.

It has some viewers reaching out to us wondering where these cases are coming from, and what county health officials recommend to do about it.

Despite our repeated requests, the Marion County Health Department has yet to comment about the spike in cases here.

Local doctors are talking about the issue at hand.

"It's been a big increase in cases in COVID-19 recently, in my practice we seem to diagnose a couple everyday," said Hannibal Clinic Physician Dr. Erik Meidl.

He said with 10 to 30 new cases in the county every day, COVID-19 is a problem in Marion county.

"So I think people should typically stay out of bars at this time, stay out of crowded areas, not go to events where there's large numbers of people, if you need to be out in public you should wear a mask," said Meidl.

He said the health department has been following CDC guidelines.

"In terms of mandatory use of masks, I think I would probably leave that up to a lot of other people to decide, personally I think people can make good decisions usually and should be able to make those kinds of decisions," said Dr. Meidl, adding that wearing a mask can reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission by up to 70% however.

He also said there are situations where masks should be required.

"I think when people are forced to be in certain areas and they are forced to be in contact with other people then everybody should be wearing a mask if it's not voluntary for people to be going into those areas," said Dr. Meidl.

He said right now, people should keep following social distancing guidelines, washing their hands, and wearing masks, as vaccines are getting closer to being ready for the public.

"Hang on, try to not get fatigued from all the mask wearing and other social isolation recommendations," said Dr. Meidl, "hopefully we'll all get through this."

We reached out to the Marion County Health Department multiple times over multiple days to learn more about the situation, they did not respond.

Marion County Commissioners said they haven't received any additional guidelines from the state regarding COVID-19 response.

In the past, Governor Parson has said he's leaving the decision to put precautions in place up to local governments.

Dr. Meidl said across the world there are 6 vaccines in Phase 3 trials, and many more in second and first phase trails.

He said for the time being, it's important to keep trying to prevent the spread of COVID while ways to combat the virus are developed.

"We should have data according to Pfizer in October on the effectiveness of their vaccine, and others shortly thereafter," said Dr. Meidl, "meaning probably late October, early November, with the ramp up with operation warp speed, we should have some vaccine available, if people can just hang on."

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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