MARYVILLE, Mo. — Health officials in Nodaway County are calling for more people to get vaccinated as the number of COVID-19 cases reaches levels that haven’t been seen since winter.
As of July 19, the most recent data available, the Nodaway County Health Department reported 55 active cases, the highest active case count since Jan. 22, according to the online Nodaway County COVID-19 Data dashboard. The active cases had been gradually rising since bottoming out in April and May until cases began to spike in mid-July.
The best thing to do to help stop the resurgence of COVID-19 in the county, health officials said, is to get vaccinated. The available vaccines, studies show, significantly reduce the risk of transmission — something health department administrator Tom Patterson reiterated at his agency’s board of trustees meeting Wednesday.
Patterson said the health department is focusing on trying to focus on people “in the middle,” who may be undecided about whether to get vaccinated.
At the health department board meeting Wednesday, Bridget Kenny, a nurse and community health liaison at Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville and also a member of the health board, said MMC-M was averaging about 20-30 vaccinations per week, around the same rate as the health department.
After a steady increase during the early part of the year since vaccinations began in January, vaccinations in Nodaway County plateaued around the beginning of May: since then, the percentage of Nodaway County residents who have initiated a vaccine regimen increased by only about 5 percent, bringing the total to 8,569 as of July 20, or about 38.8 percent of the county. That percentage is one of the highest in the state, trailing only 12 others, but lags far behind the goals from health officials that would more significantly reduce the risk of transmission and the risk of severe problems that could come from infection.
Patterson that he hopes the vaccination rate will start to rise as schools start their academic years next month.
Hospitalizations have been on the rise, too. As of Wednesday morning, three patients were hospitalized in Maryville for COVID-19, and 52 across the Mosaic system, according to Barbara Mullock, infection prevention specialist at MMC-M. Outpatient visits, including monoclonal antibody infusions, have also increased, Mullock said. The hospital shut down the space it had been using for its infusion station a couple of months ago, which provides cutting edge treatment to those with COVID-19 that helps mitigate severe symptoms. Now, the station is back in service, treating 39 patients since June 1.
“We would like to encourage those that are not vaccinated to reconsider their decision and get vaccinated to protect themselves and others,” Mullock told The Forum in an email.
Anyone age 12 or older is eligible to be vaccinated. Anyone interested in receiving a free COVID-19 vaccine can call the health department at 660-562-2755 to arrange an appointment.
Other health department notes
- The health department board set the tax rate hearing for Aug. 18 at 9:30 a.m., ahead of the regularly scheduled meeting at 10 a.m.
- Health department staff have been working to oust a raccoon that has taken up residence in the space between the first floor ceiling and second floor. The pursuit is ongoing.