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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.

Outgoing Health Department Director Speaks Out Against Politicization Of The Pandemic

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Michele Skalicky
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As outgoing Springfield-Greene County Health Department director, Clay Goddard, spoke Friday at a mass vaccination clinic in Springfield, he said it felt like he’d come full circle, "because this is what healing looks like."

He said numbers are moving in the right direction.  COVID-19 case numbers and hospital admittance numbers are declining and more and more people are getting vaccines.

Last week there was only one case of COVID-19 in a long-term care facility resident.  That compares to 132 in the first week of January, according to Goddard.

During his last press briefing before retiring from the health department to work for the Missouri Foundation for Health, Goddard praised the collaboration between the health department and city and county leaders in fighting COVID-19.  But he criticized those who he said politicized the pandemic.

"Too much of this pandemic has been fighting battles on unnecessary fronts," he said.  "Politicizing a pandemic is a tragic error and a mistake that we cannot continue to make."

Goddard said, while Missouri’s public health departments should have been educating their communities about the virus, teaching them how to best protect themselves and combatting vaccine disinformation, they were “fighting completely unnecessary political battles.”

"The people who should have been our reinforcements were lobbing grenades at our backs because the political win was much more important," he said.

He credited Governor Mike Parson for giving local communities flexibility to take measures to keep citizens safe, although he disagreed with Parson’s decision to not issue a statewide mask mandate.  But he criticized efforts in Jefferson City to take control away from public health departments as they work to fight disease in their communities.