Apr. 4—There is a lot of good news to be grateful for this week.
We are gaining ground against the pandemic. Joplin officials called attention Monday to the high rate of COVID-19 vaccination among city residents. They report that more than 31% of Joplin's nearly 51,000 residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot since January, above both the national and state averages.
"This is a really good thing," said Ryan Talken, director of the Joplin Health Department. The statewide vaccination average is 24.5%. The national average currently sits at 28.2%. "I think that shows that people in the Joplin area are interested in the vaccine," he said.
Keep it up, Joplin.
Also, Crawford County, Kansas, reports that nearly 12,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to residents.
"Right now, we have about one-third of our county population vaccinated," said Teddi Van Kam, Crawford County Health Department director and deputy health officer. "A lot of them are the 65-and-up age group, but they came in throngs."
More vaccine clinics are scheduled as Kansas is in its final phase of the vaccination rollout plan.
We are on the path to getting and keeping this pathogen in check.
Transportation is looking better for our area.
A third hub has been added to United flights that are to start June 1 at the Joplin Regional Airport, local officials announced Tuesday. In addition to Chicago and Denver, passengers will be able to get daily flights to and from Houston.
Joplin airport lost American last year as it sustained economic losses in the pandemic. Because the airport had been part of a federal subsidy program, Essential Air Service, the U.S. Department of Transportation took bids to continue flights for Joplin.
United responded, and now flights will be offered under the United Express brand of SkyWest Airlines, an affiliate of United Airlines, using 50-seat regional jets. Hubs will be Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
The addition means there are direct flights into the West, South and North from our local airport and connecting flights to the rest of the world.
On the road
Additionally, a 5-mile section of the Bella Vista Bypass in Missouri, between Pineville and the Missouri-Arkansas state line will be open to traffic this fall according to Missouri Department of Transportation officials.
The Bella Vista Bypass, also called the Interstate 49 Missouri-Arkansas Connector, will go straight south out of Pineville and into Arkansas, circle around the west side of Bella Vista then turn east to connect with Interstate 49 at Bentonville. The connector is scheduled for completion by Sept. 30, strengthening our area's connection to Northwest Arkansas.