COVID-19 cases still rising in county

By Theo Tate
Posted 1/20/22

As the year 2022 approaches its third week, Montgomery County is seeing a large increase of COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant.

The county had over 160 cases and two deaths in a span of two …

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COVID-19 cases still rising in county

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As the year 2022 approaches its third week, Montgomery County is seeing a large increase of COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant.


The county had over 160 cases and two deaths in a span of two weeks, according to the Montgomery County Health Department. There were 116 active cases on Jan. 7, compared to just 32 on Dec. 23.


“Although the increase is concerning, it was also anticipated with the emergence of the new omicron variant and the holidays,” MCHD administrator Laura Yelton said. “We experienced a big increase in cases last year after the holidays as well. Vaccine effectiveness seems to be lower against the omicron variant and we are seeing more breakthrough infections. With that being said, the vaccine has still shown substantial protection against severe disease. What we are seeing locally are those who are severely sick and hospitalized are not vaccinated, for the most part.”


The omicron variant has affected the state of Missouri, with more than 128,000 infections recorded since Jan. 1. Yelton said she knew that cases would start rising in Montgomery County when the variant first arrived in the United States in December.


“The emergence of the new variant and the recent gatherings of large amounts of people for the holidays both play a part in the rise in cases,” Yelton said.


The county now has over 2,000 COVID-19 cases with 40 deaths since the pandemic began on March 11, 2020. There were 1,055 positive cases with 17 deaths in 2021, compared to 821 positive cases with 21 deaths in 2020.


Yelton said the health department has been very active in helping the vaccine become available to residents since it gave out its first doses in January 2021. In a span of 10 days, MCHD gave out 800 shots to county residents after holding three vaccination clinics. It also provided vaccine clinics for residents ages 5-11 with the children’s Pfizer vaccine.


“The Montgomery County Health Department has been diligent to try and follow the CDC recommendations and educate all county citizens on these recommendations since the emergence of COVID-19,” Yelton said. “We continue to attempt to make contact with all of the positive cases of COVID that are reported to the health department. This contact is to provide recommended quarantines and to educate on ways to prevent spreading the virus.”


Yelton said vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and severe illnesses and hospitalizations. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, 48 percent of Montgomery County residents have initiated vaccination, and 43 percent have completed the vaccination series.


“Increased vaccination rates should hopefully help keep people from being hospitalized with COVID, and therefore free up resources to continue other important healthcare needs,” Yelton said. “In addition to vaccination, all of the same measures are still recommended to help slow the spread of the virus. Stay home when you are sick and not feeling well. Follow the recommendations of your local public health agencies and/or health care providers on suggested quarantines when you are sick or have had contact with a positive case of COVID. These recommendations are made to help decrease the spread. Clean your hands often and clean frequently touched surfaces daily. Avoid crowds if you can and wear a mask.”


Yelton said the health department has been communicating with the Montgomery County R-II and Wellsville-Middletown R-I school districts regarding recommendations to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in the schools.


“We have worked closely with both districts to promote safe environments for the students and staff, making every effort to keep students in their seats,” Yelton said. “Montgomery County Health Department continues to recommend the CDC guidelines for quarantine of positive cases of COVID as well as recommendations for close contacts. Ultimately, it is up to the individual school boards as to how exclusions from school are handled. During this current year, we were able to get free rapid antigen tests through the state. We have used these heavily on students and school staff to help keep kids safe and in school. Unfortunately, I was told recently that we will not be able to get any more rapid tests for the time being. We currently still have some, but will run out soon.”

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