The director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, Clay Goddard, said Thursday the county is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases. At least 42 cases are associated with the Greene County Jail and long-term care facilities.
As of Thursday morning, there were 1813 total cases of COVID-19 in Greene County, and 802 of those were active. Sixteen people have died of the illness. Sixty-six people are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 14 of them are in the ICU.
But Goddard said that doesn’t mean the mask ordinance in Springfield isn’t working.
"We're in the middle of a surge," he said. "I'd hate to see what would happen in Springfield if we weren't using (masks) on a regular basis.
Studies show that masking helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Goddard, and more communities should mandate them.
“I’d like to see it statewide,” he said, “and, quite honestly, if we can get mask use up to about 70 percent statewide in public settings, that’s going to make a big difference. I would encourage policy makers to consider it, and I would encourage citizens to just adopt it voluntarily.”
The rise of cases, both in Greene County and in area counties, could deplete interventions currently available to doctors to treat COVID-19, according to CoxHealth infectious disease specialist, Dr. Robin Trotman, speaking to the Ozark Board of Aldermen this week. That includes the drug, Remdesivir. Goddard said the supply of therapeutics is the biggest vulnerability now as hospitals treat COVID-19 patients.
“I think they feel good about where they’re at from the workforce perspective and from available beds, but, certainly, Remdesivir is one of those vulnerabilities, and so, we need to do everything we can regionally to drive disease rates down, so that includes masking ordinances. That includes physical distancing, limiting your densities in indoor environments.”
In the last three weeks, the largest number of cases has been in the 20 to 29-year-old age group. Goddard says they’re working with area colleges and universities to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He said colleges have robust plans in place for opening back up during a pandemic. But college students will have to take personal responsibility to prevent the spread of the illness, according to Goddard.
Springfield Mayor Ken McClure said he’s proud of those who are complying with the city’s mask ordinance. But he said we’re experiencing a health crisis, and “it’s not a time for civil disobedience.”
“I challenge every member of the community to take personal responsibility,” he said. “Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay at home if you feel the slightest bit sick. There is so much at stake here.”
McClure has issued the first renewal of the sixth proclamation of the civil emergency in Springfield. It will go into effect August 15 and will be in effect through 11:59 p.m. on September 13. He said that will ensure the city has flexibility in the coming weeks to deal with the virus.
City officials shared a video at the press conference that told the story of a Christian County family affected by COVID-19.
Tom Gammon talked about his wife, Joyce, who died on June 16 of the illness. He said she loved gardening and baseball, and she never met a stranger. She retired in December and planned to spend more time with their grandchildren. They wore a mask everywhere, he said, and they avoided crowds. He encouraged everyone to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands.