Over the last month, the Lincoln County Health Department has been posting public exposure notices on its website warning the community of cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, at local establishments.

Possible exposure to the virus have been reported at Zadock’s Restaurant and Taormina’s Italian Restaurant, both in Troy, as well as Shooter’s Saloon in Elsberry, among other places.

However, not everyone in the area is happy with the notices. Many county residents believe local businesses are being unfairly targeted by the LCHD, while larger corporate conglomerates have not been mentioned.

Brett Seifert, LCHD administrator, said that is far from the case though. Cases of the novel coronavirus in Lincoln County - as well as the rest of the nation - have risen over the last month, and Seifert said the notices are part of a campaign to keep the public informed while not punishing the local businesses.

“Lincoln County Health Department is committed to keeping the public healthy and thriving, and part of that includes helping our local businesses to succeed,” he said. “We are grateful to our community and local business owners for their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Lincoln County. We urge residents to keep taking precautions as case counts rise.” 

The LCHD said in a statement posted on his website last week the public exposure notices will unfortunately continue as cases mount.  LCHD, however, will only issue a public exposure notification when it cannot notify people directly when they have been around someone who has COVID-19. This usually means a person has been within six feet of someone with the virus for at least 15 continuous minutes. 

The health department said, luckily, it has been able to notify all close contacts of positive contacts in the county.

“We issue a public exposure notification when we are not able to notify people directly that they have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19,” Seifert said. “This usually means a person has been within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for at least 15 continuous minutes.”

The LCHD said it will try to notify all businesses of possible exposure. However, due to short time frames for notifications, if it is unable to reach the business by the provided contact information, a notice may be pushed out before contacting that business.

Due to the health department’s obligations to protect the public. it has to post the exposure notices, but businesses can also post notices on their own behalf. Notifications about cases may come to the LCHD from a person’s healthcare provider, the state of Missouri or by other means.

The LCHD thanked the public for taking steps to protect itself from the novel coronavirus, and residents should contact the health department if they believe they were exposed to COVID-19.

“The best steps that residents can do take right now to help slow the spread is wash their hands frequently, stay six feet away from others not in their home, and wear a mask in public,” Seifert said. “We appreciate all of our residents for doing their part. ” 

For more information, the public can contact the health department, or visit the LCHD’s website.