SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Springfield-Greene County Health Department said on Friday the department’s rate of COVID-19 cases is at its highest since the pandemic began.

Thursday’s total of 434 new COVID-19 cases brings the department’s rolling 7-day average to 280.7 cases per day. The previous high was 254.7 cases per day. That was reported a year ago, in January 2021. The department tracks cases on its recovery dashboard.

Aaron Schekorra, Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said Friday, “It is really showing us that what our director Katie Towns said earlier this week that we needed to be prepared for a significant and sustained increase in cases is definitely continuing to be true, just a couple days later we’re seeing higher case numbers, sustained daily counts that are very high, our daily count was above 400 again today and that’s translating into a trend, unfortunately.”

The health department encouraged people to prepare for cases to continue to increase, and to use tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as masking, staying home when sick, getting tested, vaccinated and getting a booster shot. Schekorra said, “I don’t think that today will be a peak we start falling off of, I imagine that next week, we’ll see another high day. If that holds to be true, we could continue to break records as more disease continues to spread throughout our county.”

According to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that a booster dose prevents 75% of people who contract the Omicron variant from having a symptomatic infection, compared to 35% among those who have received a two-dose vaccine. Those who have not yet become fully vaccinated will receive significant protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death by choosing vaccination now, the health department states.