SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – One new COVID-19 death was announced in Greene county Tuesday. The woman in her 80s is the 19th victim of the virus this month, and 173rd since the pandemic began.
Also Tuesday, Mayor Ken McClure extended the city’s Civil Emergency Order as coronavirus cases continue to surge in Springfield and Greene County. The proclamation was first written in March, when Greene County had 3 positive cases of the virus. Now, there have been more than 11,000.
The health department’s COVID-19 dashboard tracks things like testing and the ability for hospitals to handle new patients. Right now, some of those dials are coming up yellow, or even red, indicating there could be a problem. Health director Clay Goddard tells KY3 some of the data can be deceiving.
While the Springfield-Greene County COVID-19 dashboard shows 54% testing capability, health director Clay Goddard said it’s not as bad as it may seem.
“We really want to use more testing, so we want to be in that yellow zone for testing, that means we are stretching our capacities,” he said. “If we got into the red, this isn’t really a lack of supplies, we could stand up more testing if we absolutely had to.”
The dashboard also gives our hospital capability a low grade, despite local hospitals adding additional COVID-19 units.
”If you look at the state dashboard they said that 40% of the beds are not occupied, which makes you think that things are OK,” Goddard said. “The problem that our health care providers state-wide are really struggling with are having the staff to staff those beds.”
Goddard said the most alarming dial to some would be the public health capability score, coming in at just 10%. That dial measures the ability to interview patients and contact those who may have been exposed.
”Any time that we get over about 150 cases a day reported to us, that’s going to create some struggles for us,” Goddard said.
Contact tracers try to notify people within 72 hours of testing positive for the virus, but you don’t have to wait for their call to start quarantining and reaching out to close contacts.
”If we can’t make contact within 72 hours, we send a text message out with some instructions and we’ll follow that up with an automated phone call,” Goddard said .
The city has a masking ordinance in place and 50% capacity limits inside buildings. Goddard said he isn’t sure more restrictions would be helpful in the future. He said any additional efforts would need to be collaborative with other counties or parts of the state, as the virus goes beyond the city of Springfield.
Goddard also noted the financial impact the last stay-at-home order may have had on the community.
”Remember back in March when we went this direction there were some federal programs that helped insulate some of the collateral damage,” he said. “There was the Payroll Protection Program, which helped paychecks continue to come in, you had stimulus money that landed in people’s pockets to they could continue to feed their family, we wouldn’t have that if we were to shut down again.”
Goddard said there are no easy answers from a local level when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, and it’s a complicated puzzle. He said he is worried about the next few months as we approach the holidays, but noted masking is one of the best tools we can use to stop the virus.
Springfield’s current masking ordinance expires in January.
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