Several Columbia solid waste employees and temporary workers hired to collect city trash have been exposed to COVID-19 and are in quarantine, the city stated in a news release issued late Saturday.
The news comes as Missouri moves into Memorial Day with the largest daily increase in COVID-19 infections since May 7. The increase includes two new cases in Boone County, bringing the total to 17 reported in the past week, nine new cases in Audrain County and the first new infection to be confirmed in Moniteau County in two weeks.
In all, new cases in 40 counties were reported Sunday by the Department of Health and Human Services as the state case count grew by 236 to 11,988. The average daily increase last week was 154 per day and only one day exceeded 200 new cases.
Columbia will be forced to curtail collection by eliminating curbside recycling pick-ups this week and limiting other collections to normal household garbage. No large or bulky items such as furniture or appliances will be picked up, the release stated.
The release did not state whether any of the city or temporary employment agency workers had actually tested positive.
"The number of staff affected is sufficient enough to prevent the utility from collecting both trash and recycling from residential curbside customers," the release stated. "As the collection and proper disposal of trash is essential to the health and safety of the community, all efforts will be shifted to normal trash collection."
Because of the Memorial Day holiday, trash collection this week is delayed one day from regular pickups. The reduction in waste collection could be extended, the city stated.
There are 18 active coronavirus cases in Boone County and 46 people were in quarantine as of Sunday afternoon, either because of illness or exposure. There are 12 people hospitalized, eight at University of Missouri Health Care and four at Boone Hospital Center.
Seven patients were in intensive care to treat the disease.
The coronavirus pandemic didn't stop people from packing the central Missouri vacation hot spot of the Lake of the Ozarks for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, despite state social distancing orders.
The draw of a Memorial Day weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks flooded some bars and restaurants. One video posted on social media shows a crammed pool where people lounged close together without masks.
Missouri’s statewide stay-at-home order expired earlier this month, but an order from the state health director requires 6-foot social distancing until at least the end of May.
It's unclear what steps Lake of the Ozarks-area health officials are taking to enforce that order. Associated Press requests for comment left with local health departments, county officials and sheriff's offices were not immediately returned Sunday.
Since the pandemic first hit Missouri, the state health department has reported 38 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Camden County, including two new cases on Sunday, eight in Morgan County and four in Miller County, which cover the Lake of the Ozarks area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.