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Health officials working to predict surge in delta COVID variant hospitalization cases in Springfield

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 9:57 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Doctors and scientists at Springfield area hospitals are working to figure out when we’ll see the highest number of patients with the COVID-19 virus admitted.

Dr. Byron Yount, an epidemiologist at Mercy Hospital says, “The best predictor of tomorrow is often today.”

He says local scientists closely monitor the COVID-19 spread in the community.

“We’re in a surge in Springfield in Joplin, and the transmission of the virus is still growing, still transmitting,” he said.

He says tracking the delta variant’s trends is challenging.

“It’s primarily showed up in our region first, right Springfield and in Joplin. So we’ve been among the first in the country to have to figure it out,” he said.

He says he uses a blend of techniques and artificial intelligence to compute the data.

Ashley Casad, Vice President of Clinical Services with Coxhealth, says she uses a mathematics formula.

“We look at the average number of positive tests in a day. Then we look at it two weeks later, we multiply it by a variable which basically projects what we think our census should be,” she said.

Both professionals say their methods yield accurate results, projecting the number of COVID positive patients that will need advanced medical care.

“Thus far our models have been tracking well,” said Yount.

Casad said, “It’s been spot on for the past several weeks and generally throughout the pandemic.”

This information allows each facility to manage the current surge.

“It allows us to have a better feel for kind of, is this a capacity that, between all of us are able to handle,” said Casad.

They say, according to the models, we may not have seen the worst of this wave yet.

“We’re not really responding to the level of the threat. I hope to be wrong in all the right ways. I hope that we’re kind of peaking now but th models would suggest that we would have another week or two, maybe three,” said Yount.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department officials say they do not forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations.

They rely on hospital officials to keep them in the loop. This allows them to get the resources needed, such as the Alternate Care Center, to better treat those infected.

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