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A diverse group of organizations met virtually Thursday morning to discuss COVID-19 and resources in Callaway County.

The Callaway Resource Network includes groups that provide assistance and support with housing, utilities, food, employment, education, childcare, mental health and health care.

In addition to an update from each of the dozens of organizations present, Pam Phelps, Callaway County Medical Reserve Corps Director, presented a report saying the current pandemic could count as a disaster, explaining how groups often do disaster scenarios in training.

"Many people don't consider it because they always think disaster is weather-related," she said. "It is not. It can be health-related, it can be all kinds of issues that displace, that cause concerns for the safety of our residents."

Phelps asked attendees to imagine what they would do if Callaway County was hit with major flooding while also still dealing with the pandemic.

"So, disaster — we're in one," Phelps said. "Can it get any worse? Yes, it can."

The participants talked about working together and focusing on communication.

"But, quite honestly right now, we'd be hard pressed to do much of anything," Callaway County Health Department director Sharon Lynch said in response to the scenario.

Phelps thanked attendees for everything they have done to support the community during the pandemic.

"I just thank all of you for what you are doing and the support that you're giving all of us as we deal with this as a community," Phelps said. "It is so difficult sometimes to make it through the day without each other, so I thank you all for being there for all of us."

As of Thursday, there have been 346 COVID-19 cases in Callaway County. Of those, 103 are currently active and 241 have recovered. There have been two deaths.

"We are getting more all the time — it's a constant, every day, arrival of new cases," said Lynch, who noted some of the county's positive cases are asymptomatic, but others are serious.

"I keep telling people it's a crapshoot," she said. "You don't know when you get it how you're going to react to it and everybody reacts to it differently."

Phelps also spoke of the importance of continuously educating the public.

"I think we just have to keep reminding them: social distance, masks, wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands," she said. "And I hope that in doing that and getting that word out to everybody and practicing it ourselves, that not only will we see a decline, but we'll see it in all of our flu seasons."

Before the pandemic, Callaway Resource Network meetings were held at Callaway Electric Cooperative. Next month and likely for the remainder of the year, meetings will be held virtually on Zoom.

"I think this is the best alternative for now," said Kellie Pontius of Central Missouri Community Action. "I missed all of you guys, seeing all of you, but I appreciate you guys joining in sharing your resources, your updates."

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