Boone County is going into the next phase of easing of rules imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19 after the single biggest week of new cases since early April.


There were four new cases reported Saturday, bringing the number reported this week to 15 and the total since the pandemic began to 115. That is more cases than were reported in the 30 days prior to Monday, which covers the final part of the county stay-at-home period and the initial reopening on May 4.


The news comes as new hotspots and problematic behaviors are emerging. Audrain County, facing an outbreak among employees at large pork production facilities, reported Friday that its case count had more than doubled.


And Clay Goddard, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, gave a news briefing Friday where he reported that a Springfield hairstylist served 84 clients over eight days while experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.


Boone County reported that there are 42 people in quarantine and 16 active COVID-19 infections. University of Missouri Hospital reported seven inpatient cases with 16 under investigation. Boone Hospital Center was caring for four COVID-19 patients.


On Tuesday, bars and venues such as movie theaters can reopen in Columbia and Boone County. They must maintain social distancing rules imposed by the state, which are no more than 10 percent of capacity in spaces 10,000 square feet or larger and 25 percent capacity in smaller locations, until May 31.


Those limits are set under a state order that expires that day.


At that point, retail businesses including restaurants, bars and personal care services will be allowed to serve up to 50 percent of their rated fire capacity. Personal care businesses such as hair salons must not have more than 25 people in their locations.


There was a bit of good news, too. The Moniteau County Health Department, which has worked to control an outbreak associated with Burgers’ Smokehouse, reported Friday that most of those infected are recovering.


“Moniteau County has not had a positive case in 14 days,” the department posted on its Facebook page.


The Adair County Health Department in Kirksville reported two new cases, including one associated with the outbreak the Smithfield Foods plant in Milan.


Goddard said the stylist in Springfield worked eight days between May 12 and May 20, with only the 18th off, at a Great Clips. All of the stylist's clients wore masks and will be tested, as will the stylist's coworkers, the Springfield News-Leader reports.


Greene County had 93 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began as of May 12, according to data recorded by the state Department of Health and Senior Services. On Saturday, that number had increased by 20 to 113.


The announcement in Springfield came just days after city officials announced plans to relax even more distancing requirements and about a week after the health department started seeing an influx of new travel-related infections.


Goddard said health officials still had enough capacity to pinpoint the origin of infections and potential spread, although that could change.


"We can't make this a regular habit or our capability as a community will be strained and we will have to re-evaluate what things look like going forward," he said.


Statewide, there were 194 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total to 11,752 since the pandemic began. Five new deaths brought that total to 676.


Of the new cases Saturday, 106 were in the St. Louis metro area and 41 in the Kansas City metro area.


The state saw a small increase in the average daily number of new cases last week, increasing to 154 from 144. The average daily number of deaths reported fell to 12 from 17.


News about jobs continued to be bad, with about 1,000 contract employees of a federal agency receiving notice their jobs face elimination in what would be one of the largest mass layoffs of the year for the Kansas City area.


The Kansas City Star reports that the employees work for the National Benefits Center, which processes paperwork for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, at offices in Lee's Summit, Missouri, and Overland Park, Kansas.


The fee-funded U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has taken a financial hit amid the coronavirus pandemic and is seeking emergency funding from Congress, saying that it is going to run out of money this summer.


In a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter obtained by The Star, Virginia-based PAE, a private contractor that provides staffing for the center, explained that it received notice from the agency that it was significantly reducing the scope of its contract with PAE, effective May 30.


The positions are anticipated to be eliminated by May 29.


Some of the paperwork the center processes is for international adoptions. Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for PAE, said that "people who waited years to adopt a child or become an American will be unable to do so."


Not everyone is quite feeling that sting, however. Kansas City's smaller colleges and universities say their size could benefit them amid the coronavirus pandemic, unlike many other schools that have been forced to make cuts.


Several Missouri and Kansas colleges believe they could be an attractive option this fall for students who want to continue their education but need to save money or want to avoid overcrowded classrooms, KCUR-FM reported.


Donnelly College in Kansas City, for example, isn't worried about having 25 or 30 students in the classroom because classes are already smaller than that, according to Monsignor Stuart Swetland.


"We have small class sizes because pedagogically it's best for our students, but we may even make them smaller if necessary next year," he said, noting that there will probably be a mix of in-person instruction and remote classes to accommodate professors who may be high-risk for COVID-19.


College officials and administrators, however, expect students are likely reluctant to pay for in-person instruction, uncertain if the pandemic and stay-at-home orders will disrupt the fall semester as well. They also worry the pandemic may have put college out of reach for low-income students.


To hep students struggling financially, schools such as the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences have frozen tuition.


"What we're facing is potentially a threat to our talent pool as a nation. When these students can't go to college for financial reasons, they very often don't ever go to college," said Elizabeth MacLeod Walls, President at William Jewell College, where students will be able to request a single room, at no additional charge, if they aren't comfortable sharing a dorm.


Metropolitan Community Colleges Chancellor Kimberly Beatty expects many students trying to save money are likely to enroll at one of her system's five campuses. Both Missouri and Kansas community colleges offer a core curriculum that can transfer to four-year universities.


"A lot of the conversations have focused on whether students are going to return to the four-year schools. I think that may be an opportunity (for community colleges)," Beatty said. "We are a local, affordable option for students who still have general education courses to take."