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Greene County health officials warn post-Thanksgiving surge could be underway

Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 5:58 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 4, 2020 at 6:27 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - On Thursday, Greene County reported a record 17 deaths pushing the overall COVID-19 death toll over 200. On Friday four more residents were added to the total bringing it to 220 with over 10 percent of those (24) coming in the first four days of December.

”I know we continue to sound like a broken record about how significant this problem is but each one of those numbers represents a life,” said Katie Towns, Assistant Director with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

To pay tribute to the fallen victims and put a face on those numbers, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has put a memorial section on its website and Facebook with photos and information on those lives no longer with us because of COVID-19.

If that wasn’t sobering enough news, the department also reported 256 new cases in the county which is over a hundred more than their recent daily averages (in the 125-150 range) and not even close to the numbers from last spring when there were lock downs and closed businesses.

“It is tremendously worse (now),” Towns said.

“The spike through the holidays continues to be a concern for us,” added Brent Hubbard, Mercy’s President/COO.

Health officials believe this big jump in new cases could very well be the beginning of the post-Thanksgiving surge they predicted might happen because of travel and family gatherings.

“We’ve seen 16 percent of our cases in the past week linked back to possible Thanksgiving exposure,” Towns pointed out. “I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Between that 10 and 14 day window from exposure is when we start to see hospitalizations,” Hubbard said. “So by next Wednesday we’ll have a really good idea of where we’re at as a result of Thanksgiving gatherings.”

Gary Camp just got over COVID-19.

Describing himself as a very healthy man in his 70′s Camp said he was strong enough to bail hay until the coronavirus hit and put him in bed where he slept about 16 hours a day.

“It humbled me,” he said. “I lost 27 pounds and it just zapped me. It took my strength and my energy away from me. Wear those masks!”

When asked about those people who still believe COVID-19 is being overblown and is no worse than the flu?

“If they do have it they’ll change their minds,” he replied.

“It can be frustrating that there are differences in opinions but it’s part of human nature,” Hubbard said. “We understand that and that’s why we’re trying to bring science to the table and also what is just the right thing to do.”

And they’re saying the right thing to do next is to limit Christmas gatherings as well to keep this holiday surge from getting worse.

“We’re just asking people to hang on and get through this last holiday season,” Towns said with a vaccine expected to be distributed to all who want it by the end of next summer. “Next holiday season we’ll be able to celebrate again.”

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