JASPER COUNTY, Mo. – With COVID-19 cases spiking in Joplin and across Jasper County, health officials are urging people to take precautions. In the last week, Joplin has added 274 cases, bringing its total active case load to 345.
Jasper County Health Department has 322 active cases and reported two more deaths on Friday, bringing the toll to 63. Its added a total of 551 new cases in the past two weeks.
“Covid numbers are going up and we actually are seeing the highest number of inpatients we’ve had since this pandemic started 232 days ago,” stated Jeremy Drinkwitz, President of Mercy Hospital in Joplin.
“We have more people that are on active isolation orders than we’ve had at any time in the past, and so it is out there, and at least in the last few days, we’ve had a pretty significant spread,” said Tony Mohr, Director of the Jasper County Health Dept.
Covid cases are up over 23% and climbing in Jasper County, breaking new records and worrying parents like Marissa Kastl who says her three kids all go to school in person.
“I mean I’m concerned, but I do feel comfortable sending them because Joplin does a really good, job I feel like,” Kastl said.
“There’s always gonna be a spike at some point when large amounts of people are together,” she reasoned.
It’s putting a real strain on area hospitals. Freeman currently has 44 COVID-19 patients. Mercy officials say they’re seeing their highest number of covid patients, hovering in the 30’s to 40’s. That’s impacting wait times and bed availability for patients in the ER.
“We still got some capability, but what I want people to know is that is not unlimited, and so we have staffing constraints. We have staffing resources that are a little bit tight in some areas right now. We are making it work, but if we have big waves coming in, we’re gonna be having a lot of challenges for us going forward,” said Drinkwitz.
Capacity is a growing concern for hospitals across Missouri. For some, 10% of all patients are battling the coronavirus.
“The hospitals in our area are getting full. The hospitals in Springfield are full, and Kansas City and St. Louis are full, and so the people who think there’s an unlimited amount of resources, there’s not,” emphasized Drinkwitz.
Health officials say people need to wear a mask and social distance as much as possible to help get things back under control.
“That really is the only tool we’ve got in the tool box right now and so, you know, until we get a vaccine or better cures for the illness, that’s our only message that we can use,” said Mohr.
Chief medical officers from the University of Kansas Health System, Liberty Hospital, North Kansas City Hospital, Truman Medical Centers University Health and others briefed about 150 lawmakers on Friday concerning the rising case load across the state.
Doctors say it’s up to elected officials to deal with the rising numbers in whatever ways they deem necessary, but urged them to convey to the public the pillars of infection prevention, and that those who wear masks and avoid large gatherings help keep businesses open and keep people out of hospitals.