Springfield health leaders report sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations in recent weeks

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Health leaders say COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising quickly in the Springfield region ahead of the new year.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department says new cases in Greene County are increasing by some of the highest rates since last summer. Health leaders report a 74% increase in COVID-19 cases only from Monday to Thursday.

SGCHD also reports 321 new COVID-19 from Wednesday in Greene County, the county’s largest single-day result since Aug. 3. Greene County’s seven-day rolling average of 145 new cases per day is also the most since Aug. 9.

The numbers come just one day after Springfield health leaders confirmed the first case of the COVID-19 omicron variant in the county. Results from the CDC’s National Genomic Surveillance System confirmed that the Omicron variant has been present in Greene County since at least since Dec. 17.

CoxHealth and Mercy, the two major health systems of the Springfield metropolitan area, have noticed a rise in COVID-19 patients as well in recent weeks.

Steve Edwards, CEO and president of CoxHealth, says their hospitals were treating 116 COVID-19 patients as of Thursday. For perspective, CoxHealth was treating 66 virus patients just nine days ago, meaning hospitalizations spiked by nearly 75%.

Earlier this week, Edwards told KY3 he fears they may not have enough staff to handle the next wave.

“Omicron will spread so quickly that the stress will be kind of uniform,” said Edwards. “I don’t think there’ll be extra staff to go around. Plus our staff are tired. Plus nurses are worn out and doctors are worn out. And so our rate-limiting factor is going to be people.”

Mercy Springfield CAO Erik Frederick reported 72 COVID-19 patients as of Thursday. Nine days before, the hospital was treating 52 patients, marking a 24% jump in hospitalizations in less than two weeks.

Frederick and other hospital leaders say they aren’t seeing a large increase in hospitalizations among children, but some fear that may soon become a reality.

“We’re prepared, should that start to happen, we’ll have our resources available,” said Frederick on Wednesday. “We’ve got some dedicated pediatric units, including a pediatric ICU, that we can use, and then a large network across the ministry to bring support as well. So we’re keeping a pretty close watch on that.”

For the latest COVID-19 updates from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, CLICK HERE.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

Copyright 2021 KY3. All rights reserved.