HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled in Cass County, Missouri, in the past two weeks.
But on Friday, county commissioners issued a joint statement calling it just a slight increase and reminding residents the vaccine remains a personal choice.
In the statement, Cass County commissioners said they believe the county is being singled out by the media for not doing its part to increase vaccinations. Right now 32% of Cass County residents are fully vaccinated, compared to 40% statewide. Overall, 774 doses were administered in Cass County in the last seven days.
Friday’s statement made no push for people to get the vaccine, but did include details on its availability “should any Cass County resident who has not been vaccinated wish to receive a vaccine.”
“I would say that our model of personal freedom has really shown forth that it’s a successful model, to the extent success can be used in terms with this pandemic,” Associate Commissioner Ryan Johnson said.
Johnson points out, per 100,000 residents, Cass County has had fewer cases throughout the pandemic than Jackson County or Kansas City. Overall, Cass County has reported 7,856 cases, about 7,437 cases per 100,000 residents. The county has reported 90 deaths (85 per 100,000 residents), with none in the past week.
COVID-19 numbers in Cass County have been on the rise the past two weeks, from 16 to 47 confirmed cases, as the Delta variant has plagued parts of Missouri.
When asked if the variant and rising case counts were a concern, Johnson responded, “what we are concerned about is the right of our citizens and our residents to make wise decisions for themselves.”
“I support anything that is a choice. I think we live in a society where a lot of people are feeling forced in one way or another to choose a side, and I think it’s good to give people an option because it gives them that freedom,” said Bailey Streicher, praising the commissioners’ statement.
County commissioners are now asking the Cass County Health Department not to participate in any efforts from President Joe Biden and federal agents to go door to door in promoting the vaccine.
But some feel the county commission’s post on the Cass County Government’s Facebook page understates attention people should give the ongoing pandemic.
“I think they should still say how serious it is. I think it should still be on the top of the agenda to push people to get the vaccine,” Deena Harris said.
FOX4 reached out to Cass County’s health director, but he was unavailable for comment. Unlike many other counties, Cass County’s Health Department works for the County Commission.
Read the Cass County Commission’s full statement:
“As Cass County Commissioners we have steadfastly relied on the wisdom and common sense of our residents and businesses, rather than county government mandating what should be personal choices. The result has been overall COVID-19 case and death rates that are below most of our metro neighboring counties. Cass County residents demand their personal freedom and have proven they can make wise choices for themselves and their families.
“With case rates rising slightly, Cass County is being singled out by some in the media for not doing enough to increase vaccinations in the county. Once again, the Commissioners will rely on our residents to make that personal choice. We join with Governor Parson in denouncing any federal interference or coercion of our residents and have asked our Health Department not to participate in any door-to-door activities with the federal government or their agents.
“Should any Cass County resident who has not been vaccinated wish to receive a vaccine, there are many readily available and free options for them to do so. Our own Health Department is offering vaccinations every weekday and offering occasional off-site clinics. Information on those events can be found on our website or on the Health Department Facebook page Cass County Health Department.“