SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Katie Towns was sworn in at Monday night’s city council meeting as the new director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
Towns gave an update at the meeting and says hospitalization are the highest they have ever been since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city of Springfield is asking employees to begin masking again unless they offer proof to their supervisor they have been vaccinated. Councilman Abe McGull asked Towns what it would take for Springfield to reinstate a masking ordinance.
Town says the department is not ready to enforce an ordinance at this time.
“We are in the middle of a crisis, and we are just responding,” said Towns. “We are short-staffed, we are looking for people in the health care community to take care of people who are dying. At the moment we are not at a point where I have resources to allocate, to reevaluating, and readjust our parameters. It is something that we should get to, but we do not have the capacity currently.”
Towns also provided an update on the progress of an alternate care site coming to Springfield.
“We are working with FEMA and the state to finalize the remainder of the requests that we made earlier this month, including the alternative care site,” said Towns. “And we will be forthcoming as more information is available this week.”
The Health Department pointed out that the people becoming critically ill from COVID-19 are those who are unvaccinated.
“While there are cases of severe illness among those who are vaccinated, they are rare,” said Towns. “This pandemic is now among those who are unvaccinated. Anyone who is not vaccinated is at risk for severe illness that could require hospitalization.”