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Springfield-Greene County Health Department explains high number of COVID-19 deaths announced Wednesday

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 8:17 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield-Greene County Health Department reported 37 more deaths related to COVID-19 Wednesday. 24 of the 37 deaths reported in the last week occurred in December; 13 occurred in January.

Kathryn Wall with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said the reason for delayed reporting is because a thorough investigation must be completed to determine the involvement of COVID-19 in each death.

“This idea that anyone who dies with COVID-19 is considered a COVID-19 death, that is not the case,” Wall said. “We only count as COVID-19 deaths those who are found that COVID-19 was a substantial reason for their passing.”

Health leaders listed the victims:

  • A man in his 40s who had no underlying health conditions
  • Two men in their 50s
  • A man in his 60s
  • A woman in her 60s
  • Four men in their 70s
  • Two women in their 70s
  • Ten men in their 80s
  • Six women in their 80s
  • Five men in their 90s
  • Three women in their 90s
  • A man in his 100s
  • A woman in her 100s

”We continue to hear this misconception that this is only something, a disease, that is affecting those who are very old or very sick,” Wall said. “The numbers this week reflected that is not the case and we need people to remember to take that seriously. “

Wall said while the number of deaths in January so far are lower than the number recorded in the first 20 days of December, it doesn’t necessarily mean the virus is letting up.

”It’s a difficult thing to put a finger on and to feel confident in because deaths are a lagging indicator,” Wall said. “We don’t know for a good amount of time, someone testing positive and what happened as a result.“

Local hospitals are reporting fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations right now. CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards tweeted Wednesday Cox’s Springfield locations have fewer than 100 COVID-19 patients hospitalized right now.

Mercy Hospital tells KY3 it has 55 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Wednesday. That is nearly half of what the hospital reported to KY3 in late December.

”Ideally our hope is because we are starting to see those case numbers drop, we’re starting to see those hospitalizations drop that this is an indicator that those deaths will be lessened as well, but we just can’t be sure.” Wall said.

She said the health department is hopeful that vaccine is already having an impact, but wants people to know they shouldn’t let their guard down just yet.

Wall said we are just about a week away from the one year anniversary of the health department’s first COVID-19 news release. At that time they were preparing for when the virus would make its way to Missouri. Now, they’re working on plans to distribute the vaccine to the public.

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