Health dept (copy)

The St. Joseph Health Department is concerned about transmission of COVID-19 in the community as cases begin to rise again.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise statewide and locally. This has the health department and many of those on the front lines concerned.

In the past week, 252 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Buchanan County. There are currently 51 people hospitalized in the Mosaic Life Care system, with 48 of those in St. Joseph. The St. Joseph Health Department reported two deaths, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 60s.

Connie Werner, who works for the health department, said they’ve been working hard for a year and a half and the new strain is making it harder.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been seeing a steady increase for the last couple of weeks. It’s not surprising. You have several different factors kind of meeting together. We know that in the state of Missouri, across the country and across the world, the delta variant, which we know is much more contagious, is becoming the predominant strain of the virus,” she said.

She’s seeing a lack of precautions in the community too. “We know that a majority of the population is not wearing masks. We are having large amounts of large social gatherings, less social distancing, and we know that we are not highly vaccinated in this area.”

The ages of those being affected by the new Delta strain of COVID-19 are much younger than what was heard before. Werner said we are seeing this in local trends.

“This strain, this rush of cases, we’ve seen a much more increased capacity, or a lot more numbers in the 20 to 40 age range. So, yes, this one is definitely hitting the younger people rather than older people that we saw in the original strain of the virus,” Werner said.

The health department is asking that people be aware of the factors going on in the community that are making transmission worse.

“It takes the whole community choosing to work toward reducing the numbers. The biggest one would be vaccination numbers. If we’re not vaccinated, it continues to spread and those can add to more hospitalizations and typically have worse outcomes with the virus. Wear your masks, limit social distance, if you’re sick stay home, if you are told you are a contact, stay home. All of this stuff is necessary. It’s the same — it hasn’t changed,” she said.

Vaccinations for COVID-19 are widely available now at pharmacies, the health department and through your healthcare provider.

Morgan Riddell can be reached at morgan.riddell@newspressnow.com

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