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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.

As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Health Department Leader Continues Stressing Personal Responsibility

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City of Springfield
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Springfield-Greene County Health Department director, Clay Goddard, is reminding everyone to social distance, wear a face covering, wash your hands and stay home if you’re sick.  And he urges those who have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to quarantine for the recommended number of days.

COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to increase in Greene County.  The health department announced three more deaths Monday:  A man in his 60s, a man in his 70s and a man in his 90s who were residents of long-term care facilities.  A total of 43 COVID-19 deaths has been reported in the county this month and 73 since the pandemic started.  Reported COVID-19 cases have increased 22 percent in Greene County in the last week.

Goddard said at a news conference Monday he’s concerned because hospitals are nearing capacity as the flu season nears.  There was a record 147 people in Springfield hospitals Monday with COVID-19, and 52 of those were Greene County residents.

“We’re in an unsustainable situation,” he said, “and we as individuals, as organizations and as communities have to start acting like we’re in the middle of a pandemic again.”

Southwest Missouri and Greene County are “seeing significant disease prevalence,” according to Goddard.  He challenged leaders of area communities that are not using mitigation strategies “to take another look at their data.”

Goddard said there are plenty of tests available, and he encouraged anyone with even one COVID-19 symptom to get tested.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will hold a free community testing event October 2 and 3 at Second Baptist Church in Springfield.  Registration is at health.mo.gov.

Greene County had 6,767 cases as of Monday morning, and 2,664 of those were active.  Goddard said people testing positive in the last week have tended to be older, and that means there’s a risk for more hospitalizations.

“Remember, hospitalizations and deaths are trailing indicators, so I’m keenly nervous about the next 14 to 21 days, and what that older skew in the age demographic means.”

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Credit City of Springfield
Jean Grabeel, director of Health Services for SPS

Jean Grabeel, director of health services for Springfield Public Schools, also spoke at the press conference.  She said there have been 138 cases of COVID-19 in the district since school started in August.  Of those, 53 were staff members, and 85 were students.  She credited the preventive measures the district is taking, including requiring masks, for "the vast majority" of those positive cases not spreading the illness to anyone else in the district.

Grabeel said the district will offer free flu shots at all school sites for both seated students and those doing virtual learning.

Goddard said, if people start taking personal responsibility, the number of people being diagnosed with COVID-19 can go down.

“We can take this on if we choose to," he said.  "If we do it the right way and reduce our disease rates.”