More than 40,000 Christian County residents are vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is 45.6 percent of the population. Data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Seniors shows that Christian County's population of vaccinated persons increased by about half a percent from Jan. 7 to Jan. 21.
Missouri had 63,174 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed through PCR testing in the seven days from Jan. 14-21. Twenty-nine Missourians died in that week, bringing the Missouri death toll to 13,865 since March 2020.
In span of days from Jan. 12-18, Christian County had an average of 127 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed per day through patients taking PCR tests at clinics, hospitals or testing sites. There were 891 new cases confirmed and another 479 probable cases documented through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Christian County had a 7-day positivity rate of 37.3 percent of the 2,386 PCR tests taken turning up positive. There were no new confirmed COVID deaths among Christian County residents in that time period. The death toll for Christian County remains at 182 confirmed deaths with 38 additional deaths classified as "probable" by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Christian County ranks 15th out of 114 Missouri counties in its testing rate, with an average turnaround time of 2.0 days for PCR test results.
Springfield's two top hospital officials are united in calling for more patients to take vaccines against COVID-19, and for everyone to take action that can reduce the spread of COVID-19, like social distancing, hygiene practices and masking.
CoxHealth reported a 43-percent 7-day rolling positivity rate for PCR tests on Jan. 19. On Jan. 19, CoxHealth had 896 patients test positive for COVID-19.
"To give you a comparison, at the height of the Delta surge, our highest single day was 183," Edwards said. "Omicron is spreading very rapidly."
Omicron is affecting the hospital workforce by the hundreds.
"We do have employees out. We have about 500 employees out total. For our workforce of 12,500, it's about 4 percent. Believe it or not, that's encouraging to us, because we hear of hospitals that have 8-10 percent out," Edwards said.
In the first 17 days of January, CoxHealth experienced 50 patient deaths directly attributed to COVID-19.
"Those are all deaths that I believe there is no consolation to those families that Omicron is considered more mild," Edwards said.
Edwards said that 95 percent of the patients admitted to CoxHealth hospitals for COVID-19 treatment are not vaccinated against the disease.
"It continues to be a disease of the unvaccinated. If you're vaccinated and boosted, your likelihood of being hospitalized goes down dramatically, and you're really able to turn what is a deadly pandemic into a complicated cold with the vaccine," Edwards said.
About 3 miles to the north on National Avenue, staff members and patients are having similar experiences at Mercy Springfield. On Jan. 19, Mercy had 139 COVID inpatients, and only seven of those patients had been vaccinated and taken a booster dose. There were about 350 staff members missing work because they were sick and COVID-positive.
Patients are still dying of COVID, Craig McCoy said.
"We had nine deaths so far this week, we've had 38 since Jan. 1," McCoy said.
McCoy said that the number of hospitalized persons compared to the low percentage of vaccinated persons who contract COVID becoming sick enough to require hospitalization shows support for vaccination.
"The science shows it, the data shows it, the safest thing that you can do is to get vaccinated. If you say you care about your community, if you say you care about your neighbors, if you care about things beyond yourself, I would encourage you, please get vaccinated," McCoy said.
McCoy asked that all southwest Missouri residents who have been iffy on vaccinating in the past consider completing a cycle of Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations.
"Until you do, you have every bit as much ability to do harm and even kill those around you by spreading something, versus if you'll just take a minute and get vaccinated," McCoy said.
Edwards joined McCoy in calling on southwest Missourians who are able to vaccinate.
"If for no other reason, support our hospitals, because as we become full, we can't take care of other patients, as well," Edwards said.
Currently, the Christian County Health Department only offers Moderna vaccine, so those seeking a Pfizer booster shot are encouraged to contact a nearby provider and schedule an appointment. The following locations are offering Pfizer vaccine; however, there may be other providers offering Pfizer vaccine:
Alps Pharmacy- https://www.alpspharmacy.com/
Cox Health- https://doctors.coxhealth.com/book/1835361 or call (417) 269-1300
Jordan Valley- https://www.jordanvalley.org/covid-19-vaccines/
Vaccine Finder- https://www.vaccines.gov/
"Research shows that all COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be highly effective at preventing severe illness and death. Individuals should only get a booster shot when it is recommended, not earlier," a statement from the Christian County Health Department reads.
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