Seventeen other residents of southwestern Missouri died from COVID-19 during Greene County’s latest reporting period as the area experienced a spike in cases and a shortage of medical equipment needed to treat seriously ill people.
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department on Tuesday reported that the death toll was the highest in a single reporting period since January. The period covered between June 21 and July 4, and all of the deaths occurred in June, health officials said.
The dead were between 40 and 90 years old. None have been vaccinated, according to the health ministry.
“This should be of great concern to our community, especially as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to infect and hospitalize many people,” Acting Director of Health Katie Towns said on Tuesday. “It is our responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones against this deadly virus by getting vaccinated. “
New calls for vaccination have come as deadly variants of COVID-19 have emerged inside Missouri’s borders. the Delta variant, which has become the main driver of new cases in the state, is a strain of the virus believed to have the potential to cause more serious illness and a higher risk of death.
Health officials say those who get sick now are mostly unvaccinated, and deaths and increases in hospitalizations are preventable. Elected officials, including Governor Mike Parson, have publicly warned of resurgences of the virus and encouraged people to get vaccinated.
“The bottom line people need to know: This virus is still here, and it will be here,” Parson said last week. “It’s just not going to go away. “
Missouri has reported a total of 528,802 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 9,340 deaths. The state administered 4,992,721 doses of the vaccine, with 44.8% of the population starting vaccination.
The news in Greene County comes after Mercy Springfield Hospital experienced a shortage of ventilators – used to treat patients with severe breathing problems – over the weekend of July 4.
Health officials said on Monday more ventilators had arrived and a second COVID-19 intensive care unit had been opened. By Tuesday CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards issued a ‘call to arms’ request respiratory therapists to help manage the patient load.
In Kansas City, the metropolitan area added nearly 800 more cases of COVID-19 over the past week as the moving average rose to 112, breaking above 100 for the first time since late May. A week ago the average was 83 and two weeks ago it was 63, according to data maintained by The Star.
Lisa Gutierrez and Katie Moore of The Star contributed to this reporting.