Jasper County, Missouri Sees Its COVID Cases Quadruple In Past 11 Days
Jasper County in far southwest Missouri has seen its number of COVID-19 cases quadruple in just 11 days—jumping from 40 confirmed cases on Friday, June 5 to 164 this week, health officials confirm.
KSMU’s Jennifer Moore interviewed the director of the Jasper County Public Health Department, Tony Moehr. He began by talking about how many of those new cases have required hospitalization so far.
Listen to an excerpt from the interview below:
"Several of them have [required hospitalization]," Moehr said. "It's been a relatively small number. Most become ill but do not have severe symptoms."
He did not have an exact number of how many cases have been hospitalized.
A noticeable outbreak among the Hispanic community
"We have in in Jasper County a relatively large population of Spanish speaking folks. And we seem to have a fair amount within that community, but not not just that community. We have seen some clusters as far as in particular cultures within the community," Moehr said.
He said while there are some cases of people who work in the poultry processing industry, that the outbreak is also affecting other industries. And it's "unclear at this point" that the exposure necessarily occured in the workplace, he said.
"Many of them appear that they were were just community acquired," Moehr said.
Carthage, the Jasper County seat, is home to a small hospital affiliated with Mercy. Moehr said hospitals in the area have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases but their capicity is adequate right now, including in the Carthage hospital.
"We've had numerous conversations with them and they're they're telling us that they're they're still fine. They don't have major any major issues. Most people from this area go to the hospitals in Joplin because they're just a larger presence. Those hospital systems, while they're there, having seen an uptick in cases, none have reported that they're you know, they're getting to a point where where they're becoming critical or having major, major issues," he said.
"What we have heard is if you go on down into the northwest Arkansas area, many of the hospitals down in those areas are starting to become overwhelmed. And so that could potentially affect our hospital capacity here locally," he said.
Moehr said he's trying to get the word out that keeping six feet of distance between people is more important now than ever. He says frequent hand washing, practicing good cough and sneeze hygiene and wearing masks in public are essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19.