JEFFERSON COUNTY, MO (KMOV.com) -- Health department officials in Jefferson County near St. Louis on Tuesday moved the county to the "red" status - the highest alert threshold in their fight against COVID-19.

A "red" alert status means the county is experiencing "widespread uncontrolled community transmission" of the coronavirus, a news release from the Department of Health said. The county used several data sources to determine the need to elevate their status, including the seven-day rolling average of cases per day per 100,000 residents. 

“The rolling average hit 25.46 today, just over the 25-case threshold to move to red,” said Jefferson County Health Department Director, Kelley Vollmar. “Our COVID-19 case total increased 391 cases in the last seven days with an estimated 13.6% positivity rate among tests.” JCHD reported 223 new cases from Friday through Monday at midnight for a total of 3,248 county cases.

Vollmar said it took weeks to reach this level, and will take just as long to decrease the alert status level back to where it was previously.

The health department is not recommending the closing of schools or businesses, so long as they adhere to strict health and safety guidelines.

The health department is advising residents to limit unnecessary travel and contact with others, avoid crowds, and where a mask in public, but the county does not have mandates in place.

Jefferson County has recorded nearly 50 deaths since the outbreak began in March.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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