Springfield hospitals see weekend rise in COVID-19 patients; one opens another COVID unit

Tracking Coronavirus

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- Mercy Springfield has now opened a 6th COVID-19 unit, according to Chief Administrative Officer Erik Frederick, Sunday morning.

Frederick shared the update on Twitter, saying the hospital also has 133 patients positive for COVID-19.

Frederick says last year Mercy only needed five units.

“Many local rural communities don’t have high vaccination rates. They also don’t have a hospital. Get sick, come to Springfield. I think that’s getting left out of the narrative,” said Frederick.

CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards also shared that there are 119 COVID-positive patients hospitalized as of Sunday morning. Edwards points out that Cox only had 14 COVID patients in the middle of May.

“Projections for the week of July 19 range from 153-178. This is likely well beyond our capability. Delta is so highly transmissible, if not vaccinated, you are at tremendous risk,” said Edwards.

These updates come after Springfield made national news again due to the Delta variant and Mercy requiring all staff to get vaccinated by September. Mercy made the announcement Wednesday and also reported 120 COVID-19 patients. That means between July 7and July 11, Mercy has added 13 new COVID patients. During that same time, there have been 19 new COVID-19 patients at Cox.

Across the Mercy network, there are 40,000 employees. As of July 7, Mercy has 25% of staff unvaccinated.

“It is essential that we take these steps in order to protect the health of our co-workers and our patients at Mercy,” said Dr. William Sistrunk, Mercy infectious disease specialist. “As health care leaders in our communities, it is important we set the standard to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination is our best defense against the virus and already has provided many of our co-workers with the protection they need to care for our patients. Our goal is to ensure the safest possible work environment for our co-workers and patients while also being a part of the effort to stop the spread of the virus in the communities we serve.”

“The situation that we as a community find ourselves in concerning,” said Aaron Schekorra, with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. “And I would say it is fairly disappointing that we are receiving so much attention, and it is not positive.”

Southwest Missouri has one of the fastest-growing rates of COVID-19 and one of the slowest vaccination rates in the country.

The New York Times also reported this week that Missouri has the highest hospitalization rates and death rates connected to COVID-19 over the past week.

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