SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield health leaders say they are beginning to see early signs of reaching a plateau in the latest COVID-19 surge. 

During a weekly COVID-19 briefing on Monday, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department says new cases have slightly slowed this week, despite daily cases still reaching it’s highest levels of the pandemic. 

Greene County’s seven day average is currently 717 new cases.  

The numbers show that cases have slowed since reaching a new record of 1,123 new COVID-19 cases reported on Thursday, Jan. 24th. On Tuesday, Jan. 25th, 533 new COVID-19 cases were reported. 

The health department is also reporting 10 new deaths from COVID-19 in the last seven days. In January alone, our community has lost 27 people to the virus. 

Health leaders continue to urge vaccination, citing new data that shows unvaccinated adults are 16 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 compared to those who have been vaccinated. 

As of Wednesday, nearly 53% of the community is fully vaccinated, and about half of those fully vaccinated have received a booster dose. 

Despite encouraging numbers that our community may soon be reaching a peak, hospitals in Springfield say they continue to break records when it comes to COVID-19 hospitalizations. 

On Tuesday, there were 251 COVID-19 patients at CoxHealth and Mercy hospital in Springfield. 

Mercy’s Chief Operations Officer Brent Hubbard reports Mercy expects to reach its peak in the next seven to ten days.  

In order to maintain patient care, Hubbard says more than 500 employees are working outside their usual roles; delivering food trays to patients, stocking supplies, and disinfecting rooms. 

Hubbard says the hospital is also seeing fewer staff absences since reporting more than 350 employees were out quarantining last week. So far this week, less than 100 staff are absent. 

At CoxHealth in Springfield, CEO Steve Edwards reports the hospital reached an all-time high on Tuesday with 195 COVID-19 patients. 

Edwards reports 24 people across the CoxHealth system have died in the last week. None of them had received a vaccine. 

The hospital says it’s also seeing higher transmission of the virus among children and teens. Edwards reports Wednesday 21% of its positive test are among kids 17-year-old and younger.  

Edwards also shared there are more than 400 employees that have left their regular desk jobs to provide bedside support. 

CoxHealth currently has ER Physicians covering night shifts in the ICU, taking the burden away from over-worked physicians in the COVID-19 units.  

Edwards says upwards of 460 employees have volunteered to empty trash cans, run errands, and stock supplies to help nurses. 

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department ended the briefing with a word of caution.  

Despite some encouraging numbers this week, Katie Towns says it is too early to tell if it will become a trend.  

Towns reiterated Greene County still has several weeks to go before we start to see hospitalizations and deaths decline. 

Anyone looking to get tested for COVID-19 in Greene County can use the health department’s interactive map to help find a testing site. Appointments to get vaccinated for COVID-19 can be set up online as well.