JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo (KMOV.com) -- The Jefferson County Health Department says the number of COVID-19 cases has put the county back in the red zone.
This means there's widespread, uncontrolled community transmission.
Jefferson County has 55 additional new positive cases for a total of 4,106 county cases.
Judy Paul was wearing a mask when she spoke to New 4 on Main Street in downtown Festus Tuesday. She says she believes she knows why the virus is spreading out of control in the county.
"Because there's no mask mandate," she said.
The seven-day rolling average of cases per day for every 100,000 residents hit 31.94 Tuesday, which is over the 25-case threshold that now moves them into the to "red".
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.
Since last Tuesday, the county has reported an additional 527 cases with a 10 percent positivity rate among tests, says Jefferson County Health Department Director Kelley Vollmar.
Health experts are asking people in Jefferson County do their part and wear masks, but they're still not required. The health department board overturned its mask mandate at the end of August just after approving it.
"It is the easiest way to keep people alive in COVID, is to wear one of these. Take the time to put a mask on," said Dr. Ray Weick, medical chair of primary care at Mercy Clinic South.
Weick said the uncontrollable spread of the virus increases the risk of maxing out the capacity of the intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Crystal City. And if medical professionals start getting exposed out in the community, Weick said there's also the risk the hospital could find itself short on staff at a time they would be needed most.
According to a chart posted to the health department's Facebook page, the mitigation action for the red zone is to implement stay-at-home orders again.