testing photo (copy)

In this November 2020 photo, the Missouri National guard hosts a testing event in St. Joseph. After a hiatus, a mass testing site will come back to St. Joseph next Sunday.

COVID-19 cases in Buchanan County have reached their peak thus far in the wave of the omicron variant, and there’s no sign of the spike slowing down.

Since Monday, there have been 609 new COVID-19 cases reported, with 257 cases reported Thursday afternoon.

St. Joseph Health Director Debra Bradley said the current cases for the month of January have already totaled the number of cases last August.

“Considering we’re only halfway through this month, we’ll probably double what we saw last summer,” Bradley said.

Gary Clapp, a chemistry professor at Missouri Western who has been tracking the trends of COVID-19, said the current trend could be hard to track due to a variety of factors that go into how long a trend continues.

“We should expect to see in the next two weeks, this is to run through about as hard as it is going to go, people are going to either get a test or not test, they’ll end up in the hospital or they won’t, and we may not even know the real numbers because it seems to me that these particular symptoms are not as deadly as the ones in the past,” Clapp said.

Clapp said the jump in the number of cases could continue up to four weeks before going down, and people continuing to not wear masks could prolong the increase.

“If you’ve been out at all, you’ll see that not too many people are wearing masks. That’s not the best barrier, but it’s the first one and it’s the easiest one for people to take advantage of,” Clapp said.

Bradley said she has seen a decrease in test availability, especially rapid tests. The health department requested a mass testing site from the state, which resulted in the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services adding a mass testing site Jan. 23 at Remington Nature Center.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 74 hospitalized with COVID-19 at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph.

Clayton Anderson can be reached at clayton.anderson@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowAnderson.

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