SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- The Springfield-Greene County Health Department and SPS Superintendent Grenita Lathan will provide a COVID-19 update Friday afternoon.
Health Director Katie Towns said during the briefing that over 5,000 doses of vaccine had been administered in the past seven days. Towns also said 137 school-aged children have tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr. Lathan says SPS will require masking for students and staff inside Springfield Public Schools facilities. Lathan says this is guidance from the CDC. The District will have in-person learning Monday-Friday when school starts on August 23.
“We learned many important lessons about COVID-19 last year. Masking is effective in limiting the spread of the virus at school and reducing the number of cases required to quarantine,” said Dr. Lathan. “Keeping more students in school supports their learning and social development while allowing parents to work without frequent disruptions caused when students must quarantine at home following exposure.
Dr. Lathan says the goal is to remove masking requirements as soon as local health data deems appropriate.
“We appreciate the proactive response of Springfield Public Schools to follow our recommendation and modify protocols when health conditions warrant,” said Towns.
Mercy Pediatrician Dr. Abhishek Watts says the hospital has seen a high number of children visit Mercy with respiratory issues.
“Just last weekend, I saw more than 15 children at our Advanced Ambulatory Care Clinic who had respiratory symptoms. We’re not only seeing more COVID in kids now than we did last winter, we’re seeing other respiratory illnesses – like RSV – that typically aren’t prevalent at this time of year. Masks will help protect our kids from all these illnesses. I would also encourage parents whose children are ages 12 and older to get your child vaccinated right away. If you have questions, talk to your pediatrician,” said Watts.
CoxHealth has also been seeing an increase in COVID-positive children.
“Over the last few weeks, we have seen growing numbers of kids develop symptoms of COVID, test positive, and require hospitalization, which makes this decision a pivotal one to protect our community’s youngest members,” said Dr. Kayce Morton.
Morton encourages parents to consider vaccination for children who are eligible.
Health leaders also brought up a free vaccination opportunity at the Springfield Cardinals games on August 3 and 5 next week. Anyone who gets vaccinated will receive two free tickets to the games on those nights, as well as a backpack or duffel bag.
View the full press conference below.