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Head of Springfield-Greene County Health Department says a "massive amount of disease is circulating in our community"


Katie Towns urged people to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a media advisory Wednesday.

The head of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department is imploring residents to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Katie Towns said at a media advisory Wednesday there’s a significant amount of disease in the community.

“I am sad to deliver the news this morning that our community is suffering from the enormous weight of an impact like we’ve never seen before,” said Towns.

A record 912 COVID-19 cases was reported to the health department Tuesday, bringing the seven-day rolling average of daily cases to 591.

Towns warned the public that the omicron variant can have a severe impact on people's health.

There were 220 in Springfield hospitals with 56 in the ICU. Nine more Greene County residents have died of COVID-19, and Towns said none of them was vaccinated. A total of 17 county residents has died of COVID-19 so far this month.

Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth, said they’ve seen 50 COVID-19 deaths at his hospital so far this month. He said it continues to be a disease of the unvaccinated.

Craig McCoy, president of Mercy Springfield Communities, said his healthcare system has seen 38 deaths so far in January.

Towns urged people to wear masks when going out into public, stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19 even if you can’t access a test, stay away from crowded situations and get vaccinated. Just 52 percent of Greene County residents five and older are fully vaccinated. She predicted the peak of the surge is likely a couple of weeks away and it will take several more weeks to come down from the surge.

Several area schools, including Springfield, canceled in-person class Wednesday through Friday because of staff shortages due to illness.

SPS Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan said there’s not enough staff right now to even provide virtual learning. She said they’re closely monitoring the situation. If they are unable to open schools to students Monday, Lathan said they’ll move to virtual learning.

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