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KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.

Keeping An Eye On Data, Greene County Health Officials Turn Attention To Vaccination Rates

Josh Conaway

Health officials in Greene County are keeping a close eye on data as they determine how and when to best ease COVID-19 restrictions.  One key factor in the county’s fight is the percentage of people vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Springfield City Council voted to move COVID restrictions from the “Red phase” to the “Yellow phase” on April 16, which will remove occupancy limits and allow buffet dining and special events with fewer than 500 people.

Katie Towns, acting director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said Tuesday Springfield is basing those decisions on three important thresholds. Those thresholds are COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations, and the percentage of the population who are vaccinated against the virus.

But while the first two criteria have been met, Towns said the percent of the population vaccinated in Greene County is 19.8%--and that’s short of the 25% the department is recommending before moving Springfield to the “Yellow Phase.”

Mayor Ken McClure said at a press conference Tuesday he’s confident the number of vaccinated residents will meet the goal.

“We’re almost there," McClure said. "We’re confident that we will achieve the 25% before the April 16 deadline, when our new ordinance takes effect.” 

The health department is encouraging people to sign up for a mega vaccine event this Thursday and Friday at the Hammons Student Center on the campus of Missouri State University. The university has said it hopes to vaccinate 10,000 people with a one-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine. 

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.