Missouri hospital treats record number of virus patients

August 1, 2021 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Springfield hospital reached a “sad new record” on Sunday when the number of coronavirus patients in its care rose to 187, an administrator said.

CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards urged residents via Twitter to get vaccinated “to protect others, to protect children, to protect our community.”

On Saturday, Edwards wrote on social media that the hospital had 180 infected inpatients, which at the time was a new record, according to the Kansas City Star. The number was as low as 28 patients about eight weeks ago, he said.

“I can’t understand the motivations of people disparaging healthcare providers and diminishing the reality of this pandemic,” Edwards said on Twitter, as health officials continue to urge Missourians to get vaccinated as the more aggressive delta variant added to recent spikes in infections and deaths.

In Greene County, where Springfield is located, 42.5% of the population has initiated vaccination and 36.2% has completed the vaccination process. Statewide, 48.1% of the population has initiated the vaccine and 41.3% has completed it, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

In the past week, 887 more people tested positive for COVID-29 in Greene County, according to state data. Increasingly, hospitals are admitting children with the virus.

On Thursday, more than 300 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 across the two health systems in Springfield, including three patients under age 10.

That day, there were 145 COVID-19 patients at Mercy Springfield, said chief administrative officer Erik Frederick. Five of those patients were under the age of 20 and three were under age 10.

Ninety-three percent of the patients were unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, officials in St. Louis asked people who attended a Tuesday city council meeting to quarantine, including five council members, the county executive and director of the county health department, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Most of those at the meeting came to protest the joint city and county mask mandate and were not wearing face coverings. A city resident who attended the meeting began experiencing symptoms the following day and underwent a test for COVID-19 on Thursday, according Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the city.

The city health department received notification of the positive result on Saturday, sparking the advisory asking that everyone who attended the meeting — even those who are fully vaccinated — to quarantine for the next nine days to complete the 14-day quarantine period.

The restrictions have drawn a fierce response. St. Louis County Health Director Faisal Khan said he was assaulted and bombarded with racial slurs after defending a new mask mandate. One county councilman questioned whether Khan was telling the truth.

Khan spoke at the St. Louis County Council meeting on Tuesday, when the council voted 5-2 to end a mask mandate imposed by Democratic County Executive Sam Page. The resurgent coronavirus began its summer assault in under-vaccinated rural areas of Missouri, but has increasingly led to new cases and hospitalizations in St. Louis.