May 03, 2021 11:14 PM

Health officials express concern over rising COVID cases in Buchanan County

Posted May 03, 2021 11:14 PM
Stock photo.
Stock photo.

By TOMMY REZAC

St. Joseph Post

Buchanan County continues to see a recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

The St. Joseph Health Department reported 90 new cases in the county last week - nearly tripling the 33 cases reported the week before that.

Of the 90 new cases, 66 of those were reported in people age 49 or younger. People between age 20-29 accounted for 24 of those new cases.

"It's anybody's guess," said St. Joseph Health Department spokeswoman Stephanie Malita on why the younger demographic is seeing more cases. "Why that age range is being impacted more at this time with new positive cases."

There was only one new case reported over the weekend, but 14 new cases were reported Monday.

The county's positivity rate has also increased to 4.22 percent. That's up from 2.81 percent last week.

St. Joseph Health Department spokeswoman Stephanie Malita is hopeful that a mass vaccination clinic at the Civic Arena on Tuesday can help bring these case numbers back down.

"It's open to anybody," Malita said of the clinic. "Anyone that's 18 or older who lives in Missouri. We would welcome you at our clinic. The vaccine is free, there's no charge to you and we're trying to make it as convenient as possible."

People can still sign up for a vaccine by clicking this link or by calling the St. Joseph Health Department at 816-271-4636. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins will be accepted from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday.

The department also added a clinic for May 11 - also at Civic Arena. There are 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine available for each clinic. 

Government ID and proof of health insurance are not required to get the vaccine. A second dose clinic planned for Thursday, June 3 at the same location. 

While the COVID-19 vaccine is available at pharmacies across St. Joseph, the health department is offering a new opportunity for more citizens to get the vaccine, since the Mosaic Community Clinic at the East Hills Shopping Center stopped giving first doses of the shot due to falling demand.

"In the meantime, some of the urgency has waned," Malita said of the vaccination rate. "People are not getting signed up to get those shots like they were at one point."

Buchanan County's vaccination rate remains low with 18.8 percent of residents initiating vaccination and only 15.3 percent of the population completing it.

Malita says the downtown location of this mass vaccination clinic Tuesday could be more convenient for those who live and work in the area and are still seeking a vaccine.

She adds the department has access to more than enough doses of vaccine to hold several more clinics into the summer if needed.

"We're prepared to do one weekly into early summer if we have the demand for it," Malita said. "Our hope is we'll see a good response and have people sign up and get vaccinated. If we have that, then we'll add more dates."

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.