Sheriff’s deputy, emergency management officer John weighs in on new coronavirus case

County COVID outbreak ‘is not that bad’

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 8/5/20

MARIES COUNTY — Following the Phelps-Maries County Health Department’s release last Wednesday that a positive COVID-19 case can be traced to a Saturday night Belle Fair event, Maries …

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Sheriff’s deputy, emergency management officer John weighs in on new coronavirus case

County COVID outbreak ‘is not that bad’


MARIES COUNTY — Following the Phelps-Maries County Health Department’s release last Wednesday that a positive COVID-19 case can be traced to a Saturday night Belle Fair event, Maries County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Scott John said the outbreak “is not that bad.”

“As of right now, we do not know of anybody other than the one individual in Belle that has COVID,” said John, who is the county’s emergency management officer. “The county has one active case and now 10 recovered cases — they tested positive, its run its route and they tested negative twice so they are declared recovered.”

According to the Phelps-Maries County Health Department, the individual at the Belle Fair who was diagnosed with COVID-19 was symptomatic and was not wearing a mask. The individual was said to be at the Belle Fair on Saturday night between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., observing the Belle Dance Team. They were diagnosed with COVID-19 after attending the fair.

“The rumor was that one of the dance team has it, but according to the director of the health department, that is not confirmed,” John said. “The health department doesn’t know and neither do we.”

John said when people test positive, the state sends information to the local health department to begin contact tracing. Then they call the individual with the positive case and those who may have been in the vicinity of the positive case, check to see if anyone needs to be hospitalized and test again to see if they have recovered.

“We never release names, we only notify Maries County 911 Center of addresses where positive COVID-19 cases are located,” John said.

If emergency services are requested to respond to a residence that houses a COVID-19 positive patient, dispatch may then notify first responders to use necessary precautions.

“God help us if first responders come into contact with a positive case,” John said.

It is unclear whether the positive case is from travel or community spread.

“I’m not sure how she contracted it,” John said. “A lot of people were giving her a hard time about being at the fair with symptoms, but she was not aware that she had it. The symptoms are so widespread, you could have a headache and think that is what it is, or that your blood pressure medicine isn’t working that day. You could have the sniffles or sneezes. She had symptoms, but it was symptoms anybody would have overlooked.”

There were thousands of people at the fairgrounds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“She is being chastised in public and that is not fair,” John said. “Everybody, for months now, has been told that you could be asymptomatic. If they were really concerned about it, don’t go. Let’s quit chastising each other.”

The Maries County Sheriff’s Department is recommending that people wear masks, although it is not required in the county.

“The only place in Maries County that is mandating maks right now is the court system at the courthouse and it has been mandated by the Missouri Supreme Court,” John said.

Maries County had three or four officers present at the fair, according to John. He said his deputies deal with the risks of COVID-19 on a daily basis. Each patrol car is stocked with personal protection equipment and hand sanitizer.

“Thankfully I am not aware of any first responder in Maries County that has contracted the virus yet,” John said.

The Belle Fairboard also issued a release on their Facebook page on Thursday to inform the public that a positive case was traced to the fair.

“We received some concerns regarding the Phelps-Maries County Health Department’s Public Health Notice regarding someone with possible COVID-19 symptoms attending the Belle Fair on Saturday, specifically within the stage area where the Belle Dance Team performed,” officials said.

Fairboard officials informed the public that they had a health safety plan in place that was approved by the Phelps-Maries County Health Department prior to the event. It included social distancing, recommending masks, providing hand sanitizer in various areas throughout the fairgrounds, and more.

“We had a great fair and are thrilled that Belle and surrounding communities were able to enjoy their families and have a sense of normalcy,” officials said. “If you are or have been symptomatic and feel you may test positive for COVID-19, please contact the Phelps-Maries County Health Department.”

John added that a custodian at the Maries County Courthouse has a family member who is living with him who tested positive for the virus. He notified courthouse officials on Thursday, July 30, and was sent home to self-quarantine. He was not showing symptoms when he left, it is just a precaution.

According to the Phelps-Maries County Health Department, it is important that any persons who may have been at the Belle Fair on Saturday near the Dance Team performance be alert in case they develop COVID-19 related symptoms. Those who were near the location should practice social distancing and wear a mask while in public for 14 days from the date of exposure.

Anyone who develops symptoms of the virus should isolate themselves from others immediately and alert their healthcare provider.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and can include:

Fever or chills


Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing


Muscle or body aches


Loss of taste or smell

Sore throat

Congestion or runny nose

Nausea or vomiting


The health department acknowledges that this is not a full list of symptoms. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) continues to update the list of potential symptoms as more is discovered about COVID-19.

The health department encourages community members to take preventative action, such as handwashing, wearing face coverings in public, limiting in-person interactions, avoiding contact with people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning frequently used surfaces and staying home when sick.

Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of the virus should isolate from others.


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