COVID-19 cases increasing in Howell County, Mo.

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 4:36 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 8:39 AM CDT
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WEST PLAINS, Mo. (KY3) - According to officials at the Howell County Health Department, as of Monday, there were 21 active cases of COVID-19 in the county. That’s almost twice as many as two weeks ago.

“I think our vaccination rate isn’t as high as it should be, said Dr. Kendell Clarkston, a hospitalist at Ozarks Healthcare in West Plains. “Our vaccination rate for people over the age of 65 is much better than it is for those under 65. So we’re seeing younger people with the disease.”

Dr. Clarkston said Ozarks Healthcare currently has three COVID-19 patients. A couple of weeks ago they had none. He said some of the increase might be due to a more contagious strain of the disease.

“It probably does have something to do with the new variant in COVID, the Delta variant.,” he said. “We can’t specifically test for that here, but we know the Springfield hospitals do have cases of that and it’s likely we have cases of that as well.”

According to health department reports, only about 20% of the eligible population in Howell County has received COVID-19 vaccinations. The nationwide average is about 66%. Dr. Clarkston said the best way to slow down the spread of COVID-19 is for more people to get vaccinated.

“It is a pity to die from a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Clarkston. “We need to really get our vaccination rates up in those younger individuals who are less than 65. The older individuals are doing a much better job. I think our vaccination rate is way above 80% for those individuals.”

Many area pharmacies, including Ozarks Healthcare, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart are offering free vaccinations; most require an appointment.

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