GREENE COUNTY, MO — As of Saturday, December 25, the Health Department reported 78 new COVID-19 cases in Greene County in one day. As of Wednesday, that number has jumped to more than 320 new cases reported in just 24 hours.

Kendra Findley, the Administrator for Community Health and Epidemiology for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department says, “We’ve remained fairly steady over the fall, and as far as our case numbers, it looks like we had hit a plateau, which is kind of what we expected with Delta. Once we had that fairly large surge with Delta, we went down and we hit a plateau. Just this week though, we started seeing numbers go up. And today our case numbers went up substantially, which was unfortunate. But we assume that that is due to the Omicron variant.”

With the first case of Omicron being discovered in Springfield dating back to December 17, CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards said, “it is most certainly here in great numbers. If you are unvaccinated, be careful not to underestimate its possible severity. Very smart to get vaccinated or a booster.”

Findley also stated the CDC will pull samples from different labs across the country and test them for variants. She says the first case identified in Greene County two weeks ago should be considered “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to Omicron’s prevalence in our community.

“That’s just one case that happened to be identified, but below the water, the part that you can’t see, there’s many, many more cases out there that are spreading and that’s got to be what we are seeing as far as that substantial increase in cases that we’ve seen pop up,” she said.

Findley says the infectiousness of Omicron is a good indicator that the variant spreading in the Springfield community this week is no longer the Delta variant.

According to the CDC, in the first week of December, the Omicron variant made up less than 1% of all new cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. Just three weeks later, the Omicron variant was already making up nearly 60% of all new cases.

One challenge associated with the Omicron variant is that its incubation period is much shorter than the Delta variant.

With anticipation of COVID-19 testing being higher in the weeks to come, Mercy Springfield has stated that it will be expanding testing hours at their Advanced Ambulatory Care clinic on South National starting on January 3rd. Monday through Friday the AAC will be open 11 am – 4 pm and on Saturday and Sunday, 11 am – 1 pm.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department continues to recommend folks wear masks when in public settings, find opportunities to get your booster shot in 2022, and stay home as soon as you start feeling symptoms.