Columbia's cooling centers change guidelines as COVID-19 numbers rise
COLUMBIA - Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services have cooling centers open to the general public as an impending heat wave is coming to Missouri.
But, residents will notice differences in how the cooling centers operate due to the rise in COVID-19 numbers.
The cooling centers have a limited amount of space due to new guidelines, said Janet Thompson, the district two commissioner for Boone County.
“We have a certain amount of space because we also have social distancing requirements and mask requirements for people to be inside,” said Thompson. “So, there is a certain amount of space here in the government center that's available for folks to come in and try and cool off.”
Erika Coffman, the recreation services manager at the Activity and Recreation Center (ARC), another cooling center in Columbia, said they had to limit seating areas due to the virus.
“Space had to be limited, we have less benches in the facility,” said Coffman. “We don’t have a lot of tables and chairs up.”
On Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services website amenities inside cooling centers still can be used such as drinking fountains, waiting areas or restrooms.
Thompson said operating cooling centers will become harder to handle in the future.
“It's going to be more of a challenge I think as we move forward to take care of those needs,” said Thompson. “There is a limited amount of space as I said, so that's the question of how people can social distance, and do the business that they’ve come here to do.”
Columbia officials said that masks are required to enter the cooling centers as Columbia’s mask ordinance went into effect last week. According to earlier KOMU 8 reporting, doctors said it is safe to wear masks in the heat.
The cooling centers open are the ARC, Armory Sports and Community Center, Boone County Government Center, Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, Salvation Army and the Salvation Army Harbor House.
Columbia’s cooling centers are open during their normal business hours and more information can be found on Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services website.