SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – COVID-19 is on the decline in the Ozarks as cases and hospitalizations are nearing where they were at the beginning of the Delta variant surge.
Health and hospital leaders in Greene County met in Springfield Wednesday, September 15th, for a COVID-19 briefing.
Officials from the health department, CoxHealth, Mercy, and Jordan Valley encouraged residents to stay vigilant.
The latest numbers show that, in the past week, the 7-day case average rose 9%, up again to 64 COVID-19 cases per day.
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department also reports four new COVID-19 deaths – a woman in her 30s, two men in their 60s, and a man in his 70s. The health department says all were unvaccinated.
At Springfield hospitals, currently, 128 people are being treated for COVID-19. 34 of those patients are from Greene County.
CoxHealth says it is continuing to receive 30 to 40 requests for transfers from out-of-state per day.
President Steve Edwards says Cox South is currently treating a patient from as far away as Northern Colorado.
“Because we were an early outbreak center for Delta, we built capacity, and as our numbers go down, we’re surrounded by other regions and hospitals that don’t have the capacity,” says Edwards.
Edwards says CoxHealth plans to begin scaling back its COVID-19 capacity as demand for other areas of care is increasing, both locally and from out-of-state.
Mercy’s President Brent Hubbard shared encouraging news at today’s briefing, “We’ve had no new deaths in the last four days. We haven’t been able to say that in a good number of months.”
Still, Hubbard says 53% of Mercy’s COVID ICU patients die in the hospital.
The health department reports COVID-19 cases are declining in every age group except one – children aged 5- to 17-years-old – making school-aged kids one of our most at-risk groups.
“As we move indoors and we continue to see transmission among this unvaccinated group, it is a concern,” says Health Director Katie Towns. “With other respiratory illnesses on the forefront with the colder months coming into our view, I think it’s something we need to be very aware of and do everything we can to protect our children who are so vulnerable.”
Towns says what is helping is required masking in the Springfield Public School District.
“The universal masking policy has allowed almost 200 students to remain in the classroom under modified quarantine,” Towns said Wednesday.
About 51% of Greene County residents are unvaccinated, and Towns says vaccinations have again dropped off in recent weeks.
Those speaking at the briefing today say due to the vaccination rate being lower than expected, it makes it tough to determine the reason why cases are declining.
“Those are trends we’ve been seeing throughout the disease in each surge. I’m sure we completely understand it other than we know that those most likely to be infected have been infected for this round,” says Steve Edwards.
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department says it is waiting to hear more information about COVIOD-19 vaccine booster doses for those not immuno-compromised.
The Department hopes to have more information after the boosters are approved by the FDA and the CDC’s advisory committee on immunizations.