COVID-19 county spike

Northwest President John Jasinski addressed a spike in COVID-19 cases in Nodaway County in an email to students March 11. 

In the days leading up to Jasinski’s mass email, Nodaway County registered 28 cases over the span of three days from March 8-10, including 15 new cases March 9. When the Nodaway County Health Department reported 10 new cases March 8, it marked the first time in more than two months the county’s daily case count reached double digits.

President Jasinski said in an email to students that although local numbers are low, there is a small uptick.

“The slight increase is a reminder that we cannot let issues of COVID and wellbeing slip from our radars,” Jasinski said in the email.

Since the spike, the number of new reported cases decreased to zero March 14-15, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard. When Jasinski sent his mass correspondence, there were 19 active virus cases involving Northwest staff or students. Since then, the figure has dropped to 12.

Mosaic - Maryville President Nate Blackford said Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville has been monitoring the situation.

“What we have seen with that small spike is it’s an isolated and known population that we continue to monitor and work with that population,” Blackford said.

He said the population is a group of manufacturing workers that are from outside of Nodaway County and have taken up a form of temporary residency while filling shifts at a local manufacturing plant.

Despite the temporary spike, fewer not as many people signed up to participate in the March 15 mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse, which was also the same day Gov. Mike Parson opened up Phase 1A, tier 3 of the Missouri COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Lack of interested and eligible individuals

Even with the opening of Phase 1B Tier 3 March 15, not as many local residents signed up to receive a vaccine. Blackford said along with the 700 Pfizer first doses, there were also roughly 50 Moderna second doses scheduled for the March 15 clinic.

A lack of interest among eligible individuals led Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville to use roughly 700 of the 1,000 first dose Pfizer vaccines they received from the state for the March 15 mass vaccination clinic.

Blackford said because of local demographics, the opening of Phase 1B Tier 3 did not provide enough eligible and interested individuals to claim the other 300 Pfizer vaccines.

“The biggest impacted area for us was K-12 teachers,” Blackford said. “We didn’t have a lot of those other industries near here that met that requirement.”

He explained that the other 300 Pfizer doses that were not used at Monday’s clinic will remain frozen until they are needed for the next clinic March 24. Blackford said frozen COVID-19 vaccines shelf life is not limited. He said it is when they are unfrozen that the vaccines only last so long.

Blackford said when vaccines are pulled from the freezer and are not constituted, which means they have not been mixed with saline yet, the vaccines may last a couple of weeks before being administered.

He noted doses that are mixed with saline will last about six hours before they are no longer usable.

Blackford said Mosaic - Maryville only unfreezes and brings the amount of vaccines they need to vaccinate all of the people scheduled for a vaccine at every mass vaccination clinic.

Vaccine distribution plan

President Joe Biden announced March 11 the implementation of the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination efforts. He called on states, tribes and territories to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults in the U.S. by May 1.

Missouri recently opened up vaccine availability to those who work in industries that keep society functioning. Although Missouri’s tiered approach has allowed the state to prioritize those who need to receive the vaccine first, it has created a lag in administration of COVID-19 vaccines when administrators get to the end of people eligible and interested in their community.

“It is best to get vaccines in arms as fast as we can, and there are times when the current tiering system doesn’t align with the supply and demand,” Blackford said.

He said the March 15 mass clinic was a perfect example of this misalignment.

Blackford explained that had other tiers been opened, the other 300 Pfizer doses that had not been claimed would have been administered, and more people would have been vaccinated.

“Since the state takes a unified approach, it’s not as if we in Nodaway County can recognize that and then move to the next tier,” Blackford said.

Although, Blackford said there is value in the unified tiered approach. If the state had provided more flexibility on opening tiers in local areas, then that would help with administering more vaccines faster.

Other states in the region, including, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, all follow similar vaccine administration plans as Missouri.

According to the Missouri COVID-19 dashboard, as of March 15, 19.5% of Missourians have initiated vaccination, 10.5% of which have completed vaccination with the current vaccination plan including phases and tiers.

As of March 15, there are 47 current cases in Nodaway County, 12 of which are from the University. There have been 2,628 total cases in the county and the seven-day rolling average is four.

According to the Missouri COVID-19 dashboard, 21.2% of Nodaway County’s population has received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The dashboard still ranks Nodaway County as 21 out of 115 counties with the highest population of vaccinated individuals.

According to Iowa’s COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, the state follows a three-phased approach in regard to vaccine supply. The first phase revolves around “Potentially Limited Doses Available,” which are distributed to priority groups recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The second phase addresses “Large Number of Doses Available, Supply Likely to Meet Demand” and the third phase addresses “Likely Sufficient Supply, Slowing Demand.”

Roughly 10.1% of Iowa residents have initiated vaccination, according to COVID-19 in Iowa, while 13.1 % have completed the vaccination process, which includes single dose vaccines. This explains why there is a higher percent of Iowa’s population that has completed the vaccinated process than those who have initiated the process.

Kansas follows a very similar approach to Iowa’s with a three-phased strategy as well. According to Kansas’ COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, Phase 1 will address “Potentially Limited Doses Available” in two parts. Phase 2 will administer more vaccines at “Large Number of Doses Available.” The third phase is “Continued Vaccination, Shift to Routine Strategy.” Kansas is currently in Phase 2.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 19.5% of Kansas residents have received their first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly 9.9% of those have completed the vaccination process.

Nebraska’s vaccination plan also follows a phased approach. According to the State of Nebraska COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, the state follows a three-phase system with Phase 1 being broken into Phases 1A, 1B and 1C. Nebraska’s vaccine plan follows the same criteria as Kansas and Iowa. Nebraska is currently in Phase 1B.

According to the Springfield News-Leader’s vaccine tracker, 23.6% of Nebraskans have initiated the vaccination process, and roughly 13.6% of Nebraskans have finished the vaccination process.

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