The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is recommending to Springfield City Council that the city move to the Yellow Phase on its Road to Recovery on April 16.
The city is currently in the Red Phase, which mandates a 50 percent occupancy and requires masking and social distancing. The Yellow Phase removes most occupancy restrictions, requires masking and recommends social distancing. Mass gatherings of under 500 would be allowed without restrictions, and mass gatherings of 500 or more would be allowed at 50 percent of a facility’s occupancy.
The health department’s acting director, Katie Towns, said they’ve met two of the indicators to be able to move to the next phase, but the vaccination rate is going up more slowly than they would like.
Towns said 16.8 percent of the county’s residents who are 16 and older have been fully vaccinated, and the Yellow Phase requires a 25 percent rate. She’s hopeful a mega vaccination event to be held April 8 and 9 will go a long way in reaching that rate. According to Towns, 10,000 doses of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed during the two-day event at Hammons Student Center at Missouri State University. All Missouri residents will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on April 9.
But Towns is cautiously optimistic. She said healthcare providers in the area are seeing appointments for COVID-19 vaccines go unfilled.
As concerns grow about COVID-19 variants, Towns said the vaccine is the best defense against those variants. And she reminds county residents that even those who have been fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands often.
Springfield City Council is expected to consider an ordinance on Monday, April 5, to move to the next phase on the Road to Recovery on April 16.