Springfield-Greene County health leaders withdraw alternative-care site request, governor says

Posted at 4:59 PM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 18:36:22-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Springfield-Greene County health leaders have withdrawn their request for a COVID-19 alternative care site, according to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s office.

“While the state was working with local and federal partners to establish the site – as early as next week – local health and emergency management officials and Springfield hospitals believe current state efforts to boost health care capabilities are sufficient to meet existing needs,” a news release stated.

However, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department clarified in a statement that its withdrawal of the care-site request "was not made in response to falling cases or hospitalizations."

"In fact, on Thursday alone 267 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, which is the second highest number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in a single day to date," the statement said. "We have sadly lost 32 lives during the month of July alone."

While waiting for approval and assistance from the state, "health care partners moved forward with addressing the very immediate need by building their own capacity through hiring additional staff and repurposing existing spaces."

"Because this additional capacity allows us to address our current surge, and knowing that an alternate care site was at least another week away from being operational, there is no longer an immediate need for an alternate care site," the department said in a statement.

Parson said in the state's release that state health and emergency management teams have been working with local partners “to meet critical health care needs.”

“The delta variant remains a very serious concern, and our response efforts continue across Missouri,” he said. “The rapid setup of a state-operated infusion center and deployment of ambulance strike teams are relieving the strain on our health care system. We applaud these public servants for their tireless efforts and remind everyone to take COVID-19 seriously.”

The ambulance strike teams transported 87 patients from Springfield hospitals to other areas “to reduce hospital censuses in the region,” the release stated, while the infusion center has treated 88 patients since July 23.

Cox Health CEO Steve Edwards also said in a tweet Thursday morning that the hospital continues to “maintain near-record COVID inpatient census” with 165 patients and more than 550 deaths.

And on Tuesday, the county’s health department announced it would “begin prioritizing case-investigation efforts.” Investigators will focus on children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, and “as capacity allows, case investigators will also prioritize cases in workplaces or facilities that become a hotspot for new infections.”

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data, last updated Thursday morning, show that Greene County has averaged 133 new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days. However, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department reported a seven-day average of nearly 193 cases. Their data also was updated Thursday morning.