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Springfield, Missouri hospitals nearing capacity due to COVID-19 surge

Greene County has seen record numbers of deaths in recent weeks, recording 27 this month -- nearly half of the county’s 57 fatalities since the pandemic began
Credit: KSDK / Getty Images

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Hospitals in Missouri’s third-largest city are approaching capacity due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

Officials at Springfield’s two major hospital systems, CoxHealth and Mercy, told the city council on Tuesday that they were running out of staff and capacity, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

Cox Medical Center South was housing a record 82 patients Monday, including around 35 in the hospital’s special unit for COVID-19, CEO Steve Edwards said Wednesday, noting that more patients are dying from the virus.

“We’ve had more deaths in the past month than we’ve had the whole year,” Edwards said.

Brent Hubbard, the chief operating officer at Mercy Springfield, said positivity rates were rising, indicating more people were becoming infected.

“We’re seeing the surge right now,” Hubbard said. “We’re seeing a record number of COVID-positive patients being hospitalized, and that’s not just overwhelming our (emergency rooms), it’s overwhelming our inpatient staff and is a growing concern for us.”

As of Monday, 89 Mercy caregivers were in quarantine, Hubbard said. Meanwhile, CoxHealth has been bringing in workers from out of town to help out in Springfield.

“Our staff is tired. They’re working hard,” Edwards said. He told the council that if the volume of sick people continues to increase, it is “conceivable” that the hospital won’t have enough staffing and will be forced to stop accepting referrals.

Missouri is dealing with a surge in new coronavirus cases, with another 1,580 reported Wednesday, bringing the total to 116,946 since the pandemic began. More than 100,000 of those cases have been reported since the state reopened for business in mid-June.

Among those new cases are Gov. Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa. Their positive tests were announced Wednesday.

In a brief update Thursday, Parson's office said he feels healthy and that his wife's symptoms remain mild.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who was among Republican statewide elected officials who attended a Springfield campaign event Saturday with Parson, said Thursday that Ashcroft tested negative for the virus.

The announcement comes after spokeswoman Maura Browning on Wednesday questioned the need for Ashcroft to get tested. Browning said his “recent interactions with the Governor and First Lady fall well short of the ‘close contact’ threshold (within 6 feet for 15 minutes).”

The state health department on Thursday announced 1,365 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths from the disease caused by the coronavirus. All told, the state has reported 118,311 confirmed cases and 1,952 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Greene County has seen record numbers of deaths in recent weeks, recording 27 this month -- nearly half of the county’s 57 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The pandemic also continues to take a toll on local governments, including Kansas City, the Kansas City Star reported.

City departments in Kansas City will be forced to cut another $60 million from the budget for the fiscal year that starts May 1 to address financial shortfalls caused by a decline in revenue, Mayor Quinton Lucas said.

RELATED: Missouri health department reports 1,365 COVID-19 cases, 1,056 hospitalizations

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