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HIGH RIDGE, Mo. – Jefferson County is reporting its highest number of positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. Retailers are noticing a change in their business due to the higher number of cases.

The county is reporting a 38% positive COVID test rate for the final week of 2021, a jump from 14% the week prior.

Approximately 47.8% of the population in Jefferson County is fully vaccinated, as of Jan. 3, 2022.

“That’s the highest than we’ve reported for percent positivity that’s also the highest number for cases that we’ve ever reported in a week since our very first case in march of 2020,” said Brianne Zwiener, a spokesperson for the Jefferson County Health Department.

As the positive test numbers go up, the number of customers going inside businesses appears to be going down.

“We’ve noticed an increase in customers coming in with masks on. We’ve noticed an increase in customers coming in and wanting their food delivered to their car,” said Dennis Boldt, owner of the Pasta House restaurant in High Ridge.

Boldt has seen a drastic increase in carry-out orders from last month to this month, jumping from about 45% to 64%.

“They dropped the mask mandate in Jefferson County six, seven, eight months ago, so the fear rate went way down. But now with this new omicron variant out there, people are staying in; they’re ordering online.”

Health officials say if preventative measures aren’t maintained—with more vaccinations and booster shots and mask wearing and social distancing—the bad numbers could get worse.

“The increase that we have seen is significant that in even before the new year holiday so we potentially could still see an increase in cases,” Zwiener said.

Health officials said holiday gatherings where people let their guard down by not wearing masks and practicing social distancing may have led to the increase in COVID cases.