Picture of COVID-19 virus

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Healthcare officials say a low vaccination rate in southern Missouri is contributing to an upsurge in COVID-19 cases that is filling hospital beds in the region and sending others to metropolitan hospitals.

The sentiment on the rate was echoed on national television Sunday when Springfield Mayor Ken McClure appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” The Greene County community has become the national face of a spread of COVID-19 in the United States. Hospitals are swamped and hundreds of cases are reported daily from a Delta variant surge of infection.

The surge was the focus of a CNN weekend interview with Texas County Memorial Hospital’s respiratory director, Lauren Toman.

McClure had a warning for other leaders. “My message is that surge is coming,” McClure said. “The Delta variant will be there. It is going to spread, it is already spreading throughout Missouri. Take advantage of this time and get your vaccination rate has high as you can.”

McClure said fear and misinformation on social media are the main reasons behind low vaccination rates. “People are talking about fears that they have, health-related fears, what it might do to them later in the lives and what is contained in the vaccination and that information is just incorrect,” McClure said. “We, as a society and certainly in our community, are being hurt by it.”

On Tuesday, various tracking services were showing Texas County’s cases up about 100 percent in two weeks. During the same period, hospitalizations are up about 30 percent. Many of the very sick are sent to hospitals better equipped to handle the cases. On Tuesday, CoxHealth had 147 COVID-19 patients, up 12 from Monday.  Mercy had 146. COVID comprises 35 percent of its adult population.


On Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Health Senior Services reported that Texas County’s positivity rate — the percentage of positive tests over seven days was 27 percent. (The period covered July 11-17). Texas County hasn’t yet seen as high of numbers of neighboring Phelps, Wright, Laclede, Douglas and Howell counties, which are among the highest in the country.

The department also offered a hotspot advisory Monday for Laclede, Pulaski and Phelps County because of a rise in cases and hospitalizations.


Texas County Memorial Hospital reported Monday that it admitted 15 COVID-19 patients in the last week.

Of that total, seven became patients since Friday. There are eight patients hospitalized.

Its positive test rate stood at 30.4 percent.

The hospital, in a statement said, “If you are vaccinated you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately that is not true if you are not vaccinated. 99.5 percent of deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 are individuals who are not vaccinated.”


The South Central Correctional Center at Licking said Monday it had four active staff sick and one inmate.

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