Jul 06, 2021 3:35 PM

COVID-19 worries rise in SW MO; hospitalizations increase locally as well

Posted Jul 06, 2021 3:35 PM

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped in hard-hit southwest Missouri over the Independence Day holiday weekend, leading to a temporary ventilator shortfall and a public call for help from respiratory therapists.

Local hospitalizations have risen slightly.

Coronavirus concerns in southwest Missouri have increase so much that they have prompted one Missouri hospital official to say anyone making disparaging remarks about the COVID-19 vaccine should “shut up.”

Health officials in southwest Missouri worry that deep vaccine resistance has allowed the delta variant, first identified India, to take hold in the state, straining hospitals, particularly in the Springfield area.

“If you are making wildly disparaging comments about the vaccine, and have no public health expertise, you may be responsible for someone’s death. Shut up,” tweeted Steve Edwards, who is the CEO of CoxHealth in Springfield.

CoxHealth and the city's other hospital, Mercy Springfield, were treating 168 COVID-19 patients Friday, up from 31 on May 24th, before the surge began.

Spokesman Aaron Schekorra with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department says 36 of the COVID-19 patients were on ventilators.

Erik Frederick, the chief administrative officer of Mercy Springfield, also turned to Twitter in an effort to bolster vaccinations, saying vaccinations save lives.

“So if you’re vaccinated there is a light at the end of a tunnel,” he stated. “If you’re unvaccinated that’s probably a train.”

Mosaic Life Care has reported a rise in its system, but only a small increase from 26 COVID-19 patients on Sunday to 32 this morning. All of the coronavirus patients in the Mosaic system are being treated at the St. Joseph hospital.

The St. Joseph Health Department reports an increase of 150 cases on Thursday from its last report on Monday, with 55 new cases reported Thursday. The health department did not issue a normal Monday report, because of the holiday. It is scheduled to issue another report today.

Buchanan County remains near the bottom in vaccination rates in Missouri with only 19% of the county population completing coronavirus vaccinations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.