CoxHealth CEO discusses COVID-19 response as first wave of ambulance strike teams come to Springfield

Published: Jul. 24, 2021 at 9:04 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Ambulance strike teams, many from out-of-state, arrived to Springfield.

This is just the first wave of extra help requested by the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management. The additional medical personnel and advanced life support ambulances will help Springfield’s local hospitals transport patients.

But local health leaders, including CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards, said the vaccine is still our best defense. In an interview Friday, Edwards says the COVID-19 death count keeps rising throughout southwest Missouri.

“We’ve lost more than 100 now since vaccines are readily available in the last eight weeks. And the reluctance, the hesitancy in our community, is unfathomable to me. And I think it’s incumbent upon the healthcare leaders to communicate to be louder than cacophony of all the misinformation,” said Edwards.

Local officials are working with state and federal partners to get the resources needed to handle the increase of COVID-19 cases.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson was in Springfield for an event July 24. KY3 tried to speak to him to get an update on the alternate care site that will be used to care for the overflow of patients needing hospital care.

We were told that he wasn’t willing to speak to us Saturday about anything other than the event he was attending.

Health leaders are urging people to get vaccinated and abandon the misinformation.

“We’re missing something,” said Edwards. “I don’t know what it is, but I will tell you the people that are dying. There are innocent people who had misunderstanding misinformation. Someone got into their head that the vaccine is not safe. It might be the safest vaccine in the history of man, and we somehow not overcome that.”

Edwards also said these are deaths that could have been easily prevented.

“Honestly, if we had vaccine rates where they would be, we would not have lost an extra 150 lives in our community. That’s what’s happened really in the last about 8-10 weeks,” said Edwards.

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