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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.

Springfield Hospitals Struggle To Keep Up As COVID-19 Cases Continue Upward Climb

Mercy

Mercy Hospitals president and COO, Brent Hubbard, said it’s imperative that the city extend its mask ordinance.  The mandate is set to expire in January, but Springfield City Council will vote on a mask ordinance extension in December 14.

Hubbard told Springfield City Council Tuesday, while hope is on the horizon with vaccine development, the rate of infection continues to climb.

"Last time we were here, which was back in September, I think end of September, we were at a nine percent positivity rate.  Today that is approaching 16 percent, and that's a cumulative number," he said.  "Our positivity rate over the past seven days at Mercy is right at 30 percent."

Hubbard said health care workers are stretched thin, and the pandemic is taking an emotional toll on them.  "Nurses are holding the hands of patients as they pass away," he said.

The mask ordinance has saved lives, according to Hubbard. 

Cox president and CEO Steve Edwards agreed.  He said, of the more than 100 COVID-19 patients currently at Cox, only 35 are from Greene County.  Just under 30 are from Christian and Taney Counties.

"And, you know, this is just one glimpse at the math, but, if you look at the population, Greene County's 5.2, 5.3 times bigger than Christian or Taney, and, so, if you extrapolate that math, instead of having 35 cases, if we're at the same rate that we're experiencing in Christian and Taney, instead of 35 cases Greene would have 150 at Cox South alone not including Mercy," he said.

There had been a total of 180 deaths at Cox from COVID-19 the week of Thanksgiving, according to Edwards.  That number is up to 240—60 more in just two weeks.  And Edwards expects more Greene County residents to die of the illness before a vaccine is available.  He called the current situation “dire.”

Both Hubbard and Edwards expressed concern about staffing.  CoxHealth has added COVID-19 beds in recent days and plans to add more, but Edwards said, there's "no promise we can staff those beds."

At any given time, there are about 150 employees out, according to Edwards, which he said, "undermines our ability to deliver care."  And close to 1000 CoxHealth employees have had COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  CoxHealth employs approximately 12,500 people.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.