FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
City Council unanimously repealed an ordinance containing the City’s COVID-19 regulations, (8-0 with Councilman Richard Ollis absent), effective at 12:01 a.m. May 28, 2021. A requirement for outdoor masks was lifted, effective immediately.
Springfield-Greene County Health Department (SGCHD) Acting Director Katie Towns said health officials supported repealing the ordinance because it is effective after the conclusion of the public schools’ semester at the end of May, as the COVID-19 case count is declining and the public has now had ample opportunity to get vaccinated against the disease. Keeping the ordinance in place through May 27 encourages the community to continue to carry out best practices until the end of the school year, she added.
Towns acknowledged that the risks associated with COVID-19 are still very real in Greene County. Public and other health officials still recommend that people get vaccinated, and that those who are not vaccinated continue to wear masks and physically distance while in public.
“COVID-19 has become and will continue to be an ever-present threat for unvaccinated individuals for the foreseeable future,” Towns said. “Our department will continue to work closely with partners to slow the spread of disease and continue to vaccinate people in order to most effectively reduce the spread of disease and save lives.”
Nearly 30,000 Greene Countians have tested positive for COVID-19, and 430 people have died from it since the virus was first confirmed in Greene County in March 2020.
“The Health Department will continue to monitor the number of new cases and hospitalizations. We anticipate small but short-lived increases in these rates, likely due to variants spreading in our community,” Towns said. “These ripples will likely continue occur as COVID-19 becomes a regular part of our lives, until we can improve vaccination rates. The vaccines are safe, very effective and will continue to be our best defense against the virus and its variants.”
COVID-19 is becoming an endemic disease for communities across the world – it is and will be a regular part of the community and will continue to affect individuals, particularly those who are unvaccinated. In these scenarios, both the health care and public health systems have ongoing capacity to respond in these situations.
Since April 9, all Missourians ages 16 and older have been eligible to receive the vaccine. By the end of May, ALL individuals 16 and older will have had seven weeks to get at least their first dose of vaccine. As of today, children ages 12-15 are eligible. There have been – and continue to be – many opportunities for individuals to seek vaccine. If someone wants vaccinated today, they can get vaccinated today. There is plenty of supply to go around, Towns said.
Based on current projections, Towns does not expect to reach the next vaccine milestone of 50% of eligible individuals being fully vaccinated until later this summer. As of May 18, the SGCHD COVID-19 dashboard indicates 35.6% of eligible individuals are fully vaccinated
“At the height of cases and hospitalizations, public policy was necessary to protect the health of all individuals in our community. Masking, physical distancing and other restrictions were instituted to prevent spread and reduce the devastating impact of the disease. The ordinance served its two primary purposes – to protect our health care system from being overwhelmed and protect our community’s most vulnerable,” Towns said.
In a news briefing Tuesday, City and Health Department officials thanked community partners, including citizens, for their dedication in fighting COVID-19.
“It has been 432 days since we saw our community’s first case of the virus,” Mayor Ken McClure said. “The ordinances and associated mitigation strategies put in place over the course of those challenging days to protect our citizens, have served an important purpose and as a result have saved numerous lives. We took the correct actions at the right times and stood firm. Our community is better because of it.”
“Reflecting upon the past 14 months brings me both comfort and grief. Never in my lifetime did I expect to see such valiant sacrifices. To those who have lost loved ones forever due to this pandemic, I share your pain. We will never be able to replace those we have lost. But we certainly can continue to take measures to make sure their deaths were not in vain.”
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For more information, contact Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, at 417-380-3352 or [email protected].
Read the Springfield-Greene County Health Department Memo to City Council
Read the Mayor’s full remarks
Watch the Mayor’s video message