Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations increasing, but manageable, so far

NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the area as the omicron variant continues to spread. We spoke with some local officials about the trends they’ve noticed.

Since the start of the new year the number of COVID-19 cases has increased significantly across the area, which health officials say can be attributed to the Omicron variant. In Newton County, the case increase is concerning to the Health Department Director, Larry Bergner, but it isn’t alarming, yet, because for now, things are balancing themselves out. Bergner says “Now, the good news is we’ve only got 170 active cases in Newton County and that’s in large part due to the number of releases.”

Bergner says the majority of cases are unvaccinated, but it’s not limited to them. “Now there’s certainly those outliers, people with underlying conditions that is going to be hit harder, the unvaccinated are hit harder, but overall, it seems to be pretty mild cases which is good news for our area.”

Over at Mercy in Joplin, hospitalizations are on the rise, but, there’s some positive news. “We are seeing a few less in critical care and less numbers on ventilators, so the good news is that the hospitalization stay seems to be a little bit shorter and less complicated.”

Stokes says it’s not just COVID contributing to the hospitalizations. “We’re seeing a lot of the other respiratory viruses that we didn’t see a year ago.”

Flu and RSV are just a couple of the viruses making a return, as people relax some of the COVID precautions they were taking a year ago. As for the load on the hospital itself Stokes says “We’re admitting and discharging pretty much the same amount, so, at present we are keeping up.”

We spoke with the Jasper County Health Department Director, Tony Moehr, who says the latest sewer-shed samples taken at the end of December show the Omicron variant is present in Joplin and is beginning to show up in Carthage.

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