By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
A return of significant new coronavirus cases locally concerns Missouri Western State University President Elizabeth Kennedy, but hasn’t prompted a change in the university’s fall plans.
Kennedy says the university is considering incentives to encourage staff and students to get vaccinated.
“One of the questions I get asked is almost the flip side,” Kennedy tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline. “Are you going to mandate vaccinations? And the answer is no, we’re not going to mandate. We’re considering doing it more with a carrot, if you will approach, than the stick.”
Kennedy will be meeting with her COVID-19 Response Team to consider whether the university should offer incentives to entice students to get vaccinated.
Kennedy says the university is speaking with Mosaic Life Care about the possibility of hosting a vaccination clinic during the Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp on the St. Joseph campus.
“If you watch the trend lines, we are not headed in the right direction,” Kennedy says. “So, it really is imperative for folks to get the vaccine, to get themselves protected so that we can keep doing our normal life and keep getting back to being together.”
The St. Joseph Health Department reported 79 new COVID-19 cases in Buchanan County Monday with a huge spike on Tuesday, with 135 new cases. The Wednesday number came off that high with Buchanan County recording 39 new cases.
Mosaic Life Care reported Thursday morning it was treating 51 total patients; 48 in St. Joseph and three in Maryville.
Missouri Western continues to prepare to return to as near normal as possible this fall as it welcomes students back to the St. Joseph campus. Again, Kennedy says the university will not require masks this semester and will not mandate vaccinations.
“Currently, our policy on campus is if you are unvaccinated, we ask that you wear a mask. If you are vaccinated, you don’t have to,” Kennedy says. “There are also more advantages to being vaccinated, just in general, because if you are exposed to someone who does get COVID, you, as a vaccinated individual, don’t have to quarantine. As someone who had to go through quarantine, I can tell you, you don’t want to do that. It is not much fun.”
Kennedy says she is hopeful the recent outbreak is not permanent and that the area can return to normal.
“I’m still hopeful. I’m still optimistic,” Kennedy says. “I think that as we start to see the cases rise, there may be some people that say, wow, maybe I should get the vaccine and get myself vaccinated. I think as more data accumulates about how effective the vaccines are, that will put us in the right direction.”