Active COVID-19 cases continue to be a concern in the area, reaching a high of 360 last Thursday before dropping to 324 by Monday. Phelps County was marked as a hotspot by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services this month and the Phelps-Maries County Health Department and Phelps Health continue to see active cases trending in the wrong direction.
Last week, Phelps Health reported inpatient and ICU statuses at “At Capacity” with hospital beds becoming difficult to come by as the hospital deals with more COVID-19 patients. According to the hospital, 85 percent of all inpatients of COVID-19 were unvaccinated. The total average seven-day inpatient census was 124, with a two-week positivity rate of 16.8 percent. There were 12 patients in the ICU as of July 23 with four of those requiring ventilator support.
The average age of COVID-19 patients is 66, with four patients under 40 reported, although the Phelps-Maries County Health Department is seeing all age groups being affected locally, much due to the Delta variant.
The health department and hospital urge residents to get vaccinated, as there are many different sites available to do so. The jump in cases has been steady throughout July, with 89 active cases reported on July 1 before quickly climbing to this week’s 324 active cases.
Phelps County has also been slow to get vaccinated, with 36.3 percent of the total population having initiated vaccinations and only 31.7 percent having completed the vaccination process.
On Monday, the Phelps-Maries County Health Department reported there have been 4,459 positive PCR tests, 1,202 positive antigen tests, 5,187 released from isolation, and 150 deaths attributed to COVID-19 since recording began.
Maries County has also seen active cases climbing, with only seven active cases reported on July 1 and 41 active cases Monday. Vaccinations have also been slow in Maries County, with 30.4 percent of the total population having initiated the vaccination process and 26.4 percent having completed the process.
Vaccinations are encouraged for all who can get one and is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19. Vaccinations are very affective, even against the new variants. There is no cost for a COVID-19 vaccine, even for those uninsured. Fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to miss work, school, or social functions due to illness and fully vaccinated individuals are not asked to quarantine whenever exposed to COVID-19 and not symptomatic.
The more vaccinated the population the greater the chance to reduce the number of people admitted to the hospital, keeps people from being absent from work and causing burdens on local business, and is the best way to reduce the severity of COVID-19.
Anyone with symptoms is strongly encouraged to self-quarantine and get a rapid test. Those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and meet the following criteria are encouraged to seek PCR testing instead of rapid testing:
• Fully vaccinated against COVID-19;
• Have had a prior confirmed or probable case of COVID-19;
• Have travelled internationally;
• Have been in direct contact with anyone that has travelled internationally.
Free PCR testing is available for individuals three and older with no insurance at Walgreens and CVS. PCR results typically only take a day or two and those who are getting tested are asked to isolate at home while awaiting test results.
Business owners who have several employees interested in getting a vaccine, the health department may be able to come to the business to save time and resources. COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the area and can be found at www.MOStopsCovid.com or www.VaccineFinder.com.
The health department urges those not vaccinated to get the vaccine, wear a mask around others if not fully vaccinated, wash your hands often, avoid large gatherings and stay home if you are sick. Vaccination sites can also be found on the Phelps-Maries Count Health Department Facebook page for a full list of where to get vaccinated locally.