Mar 01, 2022

Advisor says Buchanan County COVID trend looks promising

Posted Mar 01, 2022 8:12 PM


St. Joseph Post

A chemist at Missouri Western State University who advises local governments and the university on coronavirus policy says the current trend looks promising.

Gary Clapp keeps up with COVID-19 numbers on a daily basis.

“Right now, we’re in a great trend for us anyway; on the way down. Whether this be Omicron or whatever next variant might be,” Clapp tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline. “You look at historical view back at influenza or the Spanish Flu as what it was called then in 1918. Those waves happened through the next couple of years and now we just sort of accept the fact that we’re going to have a flu season in the fall.”

Still, Clapp says it might be a little early to scratch the word ‘pandemic’ in favor of ‘endemic.’

The latest report issued by the St. Joseph Health Department discloses a downward trend in COVID-19 cases with only 38 reported in Buchanan County since last Thursday.

That is in stark contrast to reports issued by the health department in late January which reported more than 350 new coronavirus cases in a single day.

Mosaic Life Care reports it is treating 14 COVID-19 patients in its system as of Tuesday, all in St. Joseph. Mosaic had recently reported more than 60 COVID patients in its system with nearly 100 at the height of the pandemic.

Clapp says it appears the very contagious Omicron variant is loosening its grip on the area.

“This latest wave was terrible, but it wasn’t as devastating,” Clapp says. “Maybe it was because we’re developing some sort of immunity.”

Clapp says that while another variant could emerge, he believes the coronavirus is moving toward becoming more like influenza with less intrusive mitigation efforts replacing the more stringent efforts put in place in hopes of checking the spread of COVID-19.

Clapp served as an associate professor of chemistry before becoming director of the Science and Technology Incubator on the Missouri Western campus in St. Joseph. He serves on the Missouri Western COVID-19 advisory team and has assisted the City of St. Joseph and Buchanan County in setting COVID-19 policy.

Clapp says that from a chemical standpoint, COVID-19 is twice the size of influenza.

“Which means it’s not just twice the number of variants,” Clark says. “It’s two to the X and we don’t even know what X is yet. But I think it’s at least twice the size of influenza. So, it’s going to be around and there are going to be variants coming. We should expect this to continue much the same as influenza is.”

Clapp says it is also significant that the COVID-19 positivity rate has dropped below 10%, now at 8.01% in Buchanan County.