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Businesses plan the return to work

For the past two months a large number of St. Joseph’s companies could manage employees working remotely, but now strategies have begun to bring individuals back into the office.

There are variations of methods companies are taking, but leadership at Clifton Larson Allen have decided to take a phased approach, bringing back 40% of their employees on Wednesday. Matt Robertson, a principal at CLA, wondered how they’d decide who to bring back first, but a majority of employees didn’t want to come back yet.

“People are nervous about the virus and we are opening at less than 50% capacity and that’ll be for a month’s time,” Robertson said.

Robertson said some employees are on edge about coming back in case of another outbreak in the coming weeks, but many also have gotten used to working from home.

“People have their offices in their houses and they’ve learned to be efficient and now having to go to an office and work is a big change, which is surprising,” Robertson said.

Another reason for the phased approach is to be able to change the office layout, and Robertson said when people come back they might not be working in the same area. Those who have offices have to work with doors shut during the first phase.

“So many things in the office seem like you’re still working remotely, so staff might think what’s the difference if I just continue to work from home,” Robertson said.

Meetings with clients and larger groups will still remain online, and the company requires employees to wear masks when they’re not at their desks.

Gray Manufacturing is following similar procedures by rearranging office space, but Todd Michalski, vice president of sales and marketing, said they’re allowing anyone to come back who wants to.

“We’ve staggered start times, breaks and lunches to keep people separated that way,” Michalski said. “If you’re not comfortable coming back and you’d prefer to work from home for the foreseeable future, you can do that.”

Michalski said it’s been good to get people back into the office because of the social aspect, but they’re still cautious by providing masks for anyone who wants one and taking temperatures before people enter the building.

Gray leadership also decided to only have employees work in the office Monday to Thursday, and Fridays will be at home.

“Research shows that the virus can only survive 72 hours, so if we leave Thursday afternoons and come back Monday mornings the whole place has an airing-out time,” Michalski said.

Michalski said one aspect of working remotely is it has helped the company realize is that if another outbreak happens or the office needs to be cleared again, work can still be efficient.

“I think all of that planning is in place and it’s basically a flip of a switch and we’re all remote again,” Michalski said.

Robertson believes that even after things calm down and a vaccine comes, the new changes in the work environment will continue to stay.

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Community COVID-19 testing conducted in Andrew County

About 300 people were checked for COVID-19 at a community testing event Friday afternoon in Andrew County.

The COVID-19 community testing event moved from Savannah High School to the Savannah Fire Station at South Highway 71 due to weather concerns.

Andrew County has about 600 tests available for anyone wanting to be tested regardless of symptoms. This was the first round of testing, with a second planned for next Friday, May 29.

The Andrew County events are part of the community testing initiative in the expanded testing plan for the state of Missouri as outlined in a three-part plan Thursday by Gov. Mike Parson.

Andrew Hoffman, Andrew County Health Department Director, said offering community testing to anyone who wants it will target those who are potentially asymptomatic, which will help contact tracing and seeing how the virus has spread in a community.

“It’s going to be likely that those positives are the asymptomatic people out there,” Hoffman said. “It’s going to give us the opportunity to do our contact tracing and to stop that strain of that virus that’s from that person on, so it’s going to give us the ability to find any cases out there, find their contacts, have themselves self-isolate and to stop that spread.”

While stay-at-home restrictions have loosened in Andrew County and throughout Missouri, Andrew County Health Department officials said testing events will give more information and knowledge to share with citizens and to answer questions regarding the safety of going to events.

“We have a lot of people that want to do the right thing here in Andrew County, regardless of whether there’s an order in place or not,” Andrew County Communicable Disease Nurse Jayne White said. “They’re reaching out to us so it helps us to be able to guide them and kind of share the risks associated with those events ... those things that they’re planning and wanting to do.”

Andrew County had 150 people pre-register for testing appointments and had the capacity to administer 300 test Friday. Sign-ups for next Friday’s testing are available on the Andrew County website andrewcountyhealth.com as they will be able to complete around the same number of text next week.

Final results of a community testing clinic for Buchanan County residents held last weekend at Mosaic Life Care were announced Friday. A total of 34 positive cases of COVID-19 were found out of 1,593 people tested there.

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Mosaic Life Care releases final testing event numbers

Mosaic Life Care has released the final numbers of its COVID-19 community testing clinic held over last weekend.

The event resulted in a total of 34 positive cases of COVID-19 in Buchanan County. A total of 1,593 tests were conducted on Saturday and Sunday.

Staff from Mosaic Life Care is handling notification to those who test positive and the St. Joseph Health Department is handling contact tracing of those positive cases.

Missouri recorded 11,558 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The number of cases is up by 218 from 11,340 on Thursday, resulting in a 2% increase.

The number of deaths increased from 661 to 671.

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University, which also counts presumptive positive cases, is reporting 11,697 cases in Missouri and 672 deaths.

In Buchanan County, 599 people have tested positive for the virus as of Friday, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Mosaic Life Care has issued 4,697 tests in its service area, with 241 returning a positive result, 4,252 a negative result and 204 still pending. Fifteen people are inpatients in St. Joseph.

Kansas recorded 8,958 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, up from 8,539 on Wednesday. A total of 185 people have died. The Kansas Department of Health announced it is ending daily reporting and instead will release numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.