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COVID-19 cases in Greene County are rising rapidly

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There's been a 71 percent increase in cases in the county in the last week.

Greene County is in the beginning of a surge of COVID-19 cases, according to the director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

During a media briefing Wednesday morning, Katie Towns said they confirmed 473 new cases Tuesday in the county. That’s the highest number reported in Greene County since the end of 2020, she said. There’s been a 71 percent increase in new COVID-19 cases in the last week, bringing the seven-day average to 248 cases per day. That compares to 99 cases per day a month ago.

“We’re seeing the beginning of what will be the worst surge yet,” said Towns. “There will be significant and aggressive spread of this disease, and we are bracing for the impact that this will have.”

Based on projections by the National Institutes of Health, Greene County could see upwards of 1000 cases per day in the coming days, Towns said.

Only two cases of the omicron variant have been confirmed so far in the county, but there’s at least a two week wait time for genomic testing, so Towns said it’s likely there are more cases here.

She expects the coming surge to impact every part of the community in just a few weeks, including healthcare systems, schools and workplaces. Local healthcare systems are seeing an increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Amanda Hedgpeth, president of Springfield hospitals at CoxHealth, said the number of COVID patients admitted by the health system is up sharply—31 percent in the last week. And she expects cases to continue to increase. Five percent of those hospitalized at Cox are vaccinated, Hedgpeth said, and none of them had received a booster shot.

Craig McCoy, president of Mercy Springfield Communities, said there were 114 patients Wednesday in Mercy hospitals in southwest Missouri, 98 of them in Springfield, and they’re seeing “a rapid increase” in patients testing positive.

Towns, McCoy and Hedgpeth urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to get a booster shot. Vaccines protect people from severe illness, hospitalization and death, Towns said, and boosters provide even more protection.

“A booster dose prevents 75 percent of people who contract COVID-19 from having a symptomatic infection,” said Towns.

Vaccines continue to be available, and there are still gift cards available for anyone who gets their first or second shot. Find out where to get a vaccine at vaccine417.com.

Towns said COVID-19 tests are still widely available, but the greatest concern is enough staff to administer those tests.

She said the health department recommends the use of at-home antigen tests if a person is unable to get a PCR test, but those are most accurate when a person is symptomatic. If someone tests positive at home, they should isolate if possible until symptoms are gone. And they should notify people they’ve been in close contact with to let them know they have tested positive. If a person is going back into a situation where they’ll be in close contact with others, they should retest. Find out more at health.springfieldmo.gov/quarantine.