SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield hospitals say they’re still hitting record numbers of COVID-19 patients despite a recent drop in new cases.
While hospitals are still bracing for the peak of the Omicron surge, some health leaders say this week could mark the beginning of a downward trend.
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department reported 465 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, January 24th. It represents a decrease compared to more than 1,100 cases reported on Thursday last week.
At the state’s weekly COVID-19 testing site in Springfield, folks feeling ill arrived to find much shorter lines than previous weeks.
“My symptoms started on Friday with a cough and by Saturday, every muscle bone in my body hurt,” said one driver in line Tuesday.
After having to turn some people away from the site last week, it seems demand is beginning to slow. Still, some say they are struggling to find at-home tests or other opportunities.
“I couldn’t find any home tests for sale and couldn’t find any facilities that could get me in within four days,” said Jordan Foster.
On Tuesday, CoxHealth reported its highest number of COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began.
At Mercy, a total of 159 patients at its regional hospitals marks a new peak for the latest wave.
As cases show signs of slowing, those running the free testing site are still filling a need.
“There’s not there’s not a lot of options, and the PCR tests that we provide are not very common and they are, you know, the most accurate,” says Jerry Sparks with NextGen Diagnostics.
NextGen Diagnostics is under contract with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to administer COVID-19 testing around the state.
Sparks says these workers are putting themselves at risk week after week, not to mention administering hundreds of tests in frigid temperatures.
“They are troopers to come out in these conditions,” says Sparks. “They’re definitely getting it done today when the wind chill is probably in the single digits. [They are out here] for nine hours, you know, helping out the community, doing their job, and testing people.”
When the work is done at the Hammons Field site, the tests are processed at Dynamic DNA Labs in Springfield.
From there, staff at NextGen have the task of notifying hundreds of people in a matter of hours.
“We have to have results out in a specified amount of time, so it’s crunch time for them, almost full time,” adds Sparks.
The testing site is held every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Hammons Field Parking lot. You do not need to pay or make an appointment.