‘Worse than anything we’ve seen’: Springfield sets grim new pandemic record

·2 min read

The city of Springfield has reached a record number of coronavirus patients in critical care and on ventilators, officials wrote late Monday.

Springfield, in southwest Missouri, has been a recent focal point for what can happen when the highly contagious delta variant spreads through an area where the majority of the population is unvaccinated.

“98 patients in critical care, 58 are on ventilators. This is an all-time high,” the city posted on Twitter just after 7 p.m. Monday. “This rate of severe illness is worse than anything we’ve seen.”

As of Tuesday, 42.5% of the adult population of Greene County, where Springfield is located, had been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationwide, nearly 59% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated.

On Sunday, the chief administrative officer for Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Erik Frederick, announced they were opening a sixth COVID-19 unit.

In a Twitter post, Frederick said the hospital only needed five such units last year.

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

Staff at the time were treating 133 virus patients, up from 116 from a week prior as health officials continued urging people to get vaccinated.

Last week, the hospital ran out of ventilators, so Mercy hospitals in St. Louis and Arkansas sent additional supplies.

Days later, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department reported 17 deaths between June 21 and July 4. Health officials said none were fully vaccinated. At least 15 of the patients had not received any vaccination.

As of Tuesday, Missouri had the fourth-highest rate of new cases per capita, according to data compiled by The New York Times, and among the lowest adult vaccination rates among all states.

Days earlier, it sat at number two behind Arkansas for highest rate of new cases per day and ranked first for the highest rates of hospitalizations and deaths of any state. While it’s since moved down the list, Missouri remains in the top tier of states being hit hardest by the virus.

On Monday, Frederick wrote on Twitter that the hospital’s vaccine clinic saw the number of daily appointments increase from 150 to 250.

“That gives me hope,” he wrote.

The same day, White House officials announced the Department of Health and Human Services will send millions to small rural hospitals in Missouri and Kansas in an effort to boost mitigation efforts and testing at the facilities.

Missouri is slated to receive $8.3 million. Kansas is set to receive the second most of any state, at $23.5 million.

The funding will go toward the smallest rural facilities, known as critical access hospitals, which have fewer than 50 beds. This qualifies 91 hospitals in Kansas and 32 hospitals in Missouri.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting