Cameron hospital with analysis

In this file photo, patrons at the Cameron Regional Medical Center are screened for COVID-19 outside of the hospital. Government authorities have threatened stricter measures if the spread of the virus isn’t slowed.

As COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, 15% of inpatient hospital beds are available at Northwest Missouri’s 11 hospitals, according to data compiled by Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services.

More than 50 hospitals are reporting a “critical staff shortage” statewide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services.

“Gower City Hall is now closed to the public, effective immediately and until further notice,” Gower Mayor Chip Holman posted on Facebook about the rise in cases. “With a rise in COVID-19 cases in our community, we believe this is the best course of action to keep our city staff safe and slow the spread.”

In Northwest Missouri, 123 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to state figures. Only 15% of “inpatient” beds remain available in the region, while 21% of combined “inpatient” and “outpatient” beds remain available.

According to a DHSS report on Nov. 10, Northwest Missouri’s hospitals have 567 beds, though a DHSS spokesperson told News-Press NOW that the number could be higher because of a blanket waiver granted by the state to extend capacity.

If the DHSS report is correct, that means about 119 hospital beds (both inpatient and outpatient) remain open in the region. According to data analysis by News-Press NOW, there is about one hospital bed for every 2,035 people in Northwest Missouri, excluding Clay and Platte counties, which are included in the Kansas City area, according to DHSS.

The analysis used 2019 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Using the same analysis, there is about one hospital bed for every 2,289 people statewide.

“We need to have a serious discussion about our current situation and the trajectory of where we are going,” officials with the Clinton County Health Department said in a statement. “Our concern stems from the ever-increasing number of cases and the impact that those cases are having on our schools, businesses, and health-care system.”

The health department acknowledged that hospitalizations are at an all-time high.

“Hospitals within our region, including our local hospital, as well as the KC metro have more COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized than at any other time since this pandemic began,” the department said. “This is increasingly exacerbated by the seasonal increase in hospitalizations that we experience every fall. The result is a lack of resources needed to care for patients adequately.”

In a statement, officials with the city of Cameron said, “additional community policies may be initiated if the local cases and death rates continue to escalate.”

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance urging Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving and not to meet with members outside their household.

Also on Thursday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson extended the state of emergency because of COVID-19 through the end of March 2021. In the executive order, he also discouraged Missourians from traveling outside the state.

Matt Hoffmann can be reached at matt.hoffmann@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NpNowHoffmann.