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Springfield hospitals see impacts of holiday travel

Hospitals experience uptick in positive COVID-19 test post-holiday travels
Coronavirus testing
Coronavirus testing(KFYR-TV)
Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 6:39 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -

Health Care leaders warned us about a possible spike in COVID-19 cases from holiday travels.

Both Cox Health and Mercy hospitals have seen an increase of a little more than 10-percent so far this year. Health officials told KY3, the coming weeks are the most crucial because they’ll see more hospitalizations, following that spike in coronavirus cases. So, they’re urging everyone -- to take preventative measures, seriously.

“The disease is probably becoming more infectious, that’s probably making a mask a little less effective, but we know it’s the best tool we have. We should still use that, we should still distance, and we should still practice good hygiene,” said Steve Edwards, CoxHealth President, and CEO.

Mercy’s Executive Director of Quality and Safety, Lacy Phillips, added to the call of action by saying, ”It may not be that COVID may affect us individually, but we could pass that on to someone else who may not have the same outcome if we were infected.”

More than 2,400 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Springfield and Greene County so far this month.

Mercy Hospital sees this uptick, especially in outpatient volumes. Phillips said their 7-day rolling positivity rate is at one of its highest, with 34-percent of tests coming back positive. Phillips said compared to late October, early November reaching 20-percent, it’s been a significant increase. While it’s not impacting availability in its clinics, it’s increasing emergency department wait times, and taking a toll on our frontline workers.

“We’re seeing so much more death than what we’ve seen in years previous, “ explained Phillips. “In just the first 11 days of January, we’ve already had 22 deaths related to COVID, and our nursing teams are tired and emotionally drained from that.”

That pandemic fatigue is also being felt at Cox Health. On Tuesday, January 12, Edwards said their hospitals had 143 covid positive patients. At one point last week it reached 160, and before the holiday’s numbers were down to the 120 range. He explained that it’s coming in waves, and as cases continue to rise, they’re expecting numbers to increase incrementally in the coming weeks.

" I just encourage people to continue to be safe,” emphasized, Edwards. “This is the most dangerous time of the disease because it’s most prolific in our community right now.”

Edwards said they have 280 traveling nurses in house, and they’ve been able to handle these waves. He said that doesn’t mean they don’t experience shortages in staff or beds at times, but they’re managing and starting to see more patients from out of state because they’ve built the capacity.

While this pandemic has been far from easy, both Phillips and Edwards say the COVID-19 vaccine gives our frontline workers hope.

“Some of our toughest physicians, they get that vaccine, and I see a tear in their eyes because they know that there’s a way through this, and almost always, it’s not because they were vaccinated; it’s because we got a vaccination, and that means it makes their job better and easier,” explained Edwards.

Additional preventive measures you can take:
  • Wear a mask
  • Watch your distance
  • Wash your hands
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Limit interactions and social gatherings
  • Minimize travel

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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