Health department issues new advisory

Karen Martin receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic hosted by James River Church West Campus in conjunction with Jordan Valley Community Health Center in Springfield, Missouri.

COVID-19 numbers in Missouri are surging with the rise of the delta variant, and that includes Buchanan County.

The county had 239 new cases in the last week, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The other eight counties in Northwest Missouri’s Region H had a combined 135 cases.

Cases increased to a point that the St. Joseph Health Department and Northwest Missouri issued health advisories Tuesday.

In a Tuesday press release, the St. Joseph Health Department stated the COVID-19 vaccine has proven to significantly reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death.

“At this time, unvaccinated residents of all ages who have resumed normal activities without adequate protection are most at risk, particularly immune-compromised individuals,” according to a statement from the press release.

Around 25% of Northwest Missouri residents have received the vaccine, and the percent is lower in Buchanan County, at under 20%.

Even people with the vaccine at least should be careful in crowded or public spaces, St. Joseph Health Department Public Information Officer Stephanie Malita said.

“If you’re in confined spaces, if you’re in a public building and around people that you don’t know their vaccination status ... it’s common sense,” she said. “It’s, you know, whether you’re talking about COVID or any contagious illness, the more you do to protect yourself, the less likely you are to acquire it.”

Recommended safety practices for unvaccinated people remain consistent with what health departments have been pushing, Malita said.

“It’s in your best interest, and the best interest of our community, for you to mask up and maintain that physical distance as much as you can,” she said. “Wash your hands frequently. I mean, these are all measures that we take any time that there’s the possibility of illness that is communicably transmitted.”

It’s difficult to predict how the surge will compare to the pandemic’s height, Malita said.

Below is a breakdown of the region’s population and number of vaccinations:

Health department issues new advisory

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Alexander Simone can be reached at alex.simone@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter at @np_simone.

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