Springfield-Greene County Health Department reports rise in COVID-19 cases

Springfield-Greene County Health Department reports rise in COVID-19 cases

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – The Springfield-Greene County Health Department reports a rise in COVID-19 cases in the first week of July.

Health leaders report 139 new cases of the virus in the last week. That is more than one-fourth of total cases since the pandemic began. Total cases sit at 493 (2 p.m. Friday).

Katie Towns, assistant director with the health department, said they are reaching a high level of people who are sick and those who are being monitored as potential cases. If that level is reached, leaders feel they will lose control over the virus.

“We will be falling behind and that leaves us vulnerable to the disease spreading more and more,” Towns said. “Clay mentioned previously that this illness is spread by taking advantage of our vulnerabilities, both personal and structural. Our vulnerabilities as a community are, again, our own individual actions.”

Towns said 636 people are currently being monitored and told to quarantine because they may have been exposed to the coronavirus. With the increased number of people infected and people being monitored, Towns said Greene County could max out on its public health capacity.

“Hitting that capacity mark means we will not be able to contact positive cases within that 24 hour period and we will not be able to get to their close contacts and put them in a quarantine sort of process within that 24 hour period as well,” Towns said.

Patients with COVID-19 hospitalized in Springfield increased to 37 Friday. Cox and Mercy are both reporting their highest number of patients hospitalized from the virus. Cox has 17 patients and Mercy has 20. The health department said of the 37 total patients, only 4 of them are Greene County residents.

The hospitals say they are also seeing younger people getting sick compared to the early days of the virus.

Health leaders say 23% of recent cases are the result of gatherings. Another 21% is from community spread, meaning they can’t pinpoint the exact point of exposure.

“These aren’t the people going out and participating in high risk activities,” Towns said. “These are the people who go to the grocery store, or maybe a rare dinner out and otherwise, they stay home.”

The health department said nearly 11% of the new cases were exposed from two or more sources. Leaders attribute this to people going to multiple events where they could’ve been infected.

The city of Springfield will consider a masking ordinance at the council meeting Monday night. If passed, it could go into effect Wednesday, July 16. The health department wants to add 37 new positions to try to regain control over the outbreak. City Council will also vote on funding that the health department has requested.

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