Springfield mayor Ken McClure addresses city’s COVID-19 response, recent surge in hospitalizations

Published: Jul. 18, 2021 at 3:20 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2021 at 3:21 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield mayor Ken McClure joined a national news broadcast Sunday morning to discuss the city’s COVID-19 response and the recent surge of hospitalizations in southwest Missouri.

McClure joined CBS’s “Face The Nation” after several weeks of rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Springfield area.

Greene County hospitals entered the weekend with at least 228 COVID-19 patients seeking treatment, according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. Mercy Springfield and CoxHealth, two of the larger health systems in southwest Missouri, were treating a combined 272 COVID-19 patients as of Friday.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department reports a seven-day rolling average of 215 new cases, reaching levels that local health leaders haven’t seen in nearly half of a year. Hospitals around southwest Missouri are battling peak capacity, which has led health officials to transferring some patients to St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Arkansas.

The Delta COVID-19 variant is considered a driving force, but McClure told John Dickerson of “Face The Nation” that there’s other factors behind the recent surge.

“People come to Springfield to shop, to do business. So people will come here. And I think that has greatly increased our exposure,” said McClure.

McClure noted on the broadcast that misinformation may be leading to the recent surge and vaccine hesitancy.

“People are talking about fears they have, health-related fears, what it might do them later in their lives, what might be contained in the vaccinations and that information is just incorrect,” said McClure. “We as a society, and certainly in our community are being hurt by it.”

Recently, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has been working on billboards and door-to-door campaigns in an effort to slow down the surge and improve vaccination numbers in southwest Missouri.

“Public health has been using the door-to-door philosophy for years. It has been a tried and true practice,” said McClure. “Our Springfield-Greene County Health Department has been using it for a long time. But the key is that these are trusted community people. We called up community advocates. It’s down to members the community members will trust in spreading information that is factual and trustworthy.”

Mercy Springfield and CoxHealth expect the COVID-19 response could become even more active in upcoming weeks. Mercy recently opened a sixth COVID-19 unit, a decision which comes after the hospital only used five units during the height of the pandemic last year.

McClure noted on the broadcast that the best defense against the virus and potential variants is getting fully vaccinated. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department just announced Thursday that 40% of Greene County residents, who qualify based on age, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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