The Nodaway County Health Department has announced one new death from COVID-19, bringing the county total to 32 since the beginning of the pandemic over 18 months ago and the first death reported by NCHD since Aug. 5.
The individual who died from the coronavirus was somewhere between 90 and 99 years old, and it is not known at this time whether they were vaccinated or not.
Locally, cases and hospitalizations remain around the same levels as previous weeks coming off the holiday weekend. No new cases were reported Sept. 5 and four new cases were reported Sept. 6.
President of Mosaic - Maryville Nate Blackford said the hospital had three patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday and around 30 hospitalized in the entirety of the Mosaic system.
Tom Patterson, administrator of NCHD, echoed previous sentiments from weeks past, saying he was pleased with the relatively low numbers currently in the county compared to previous months.
“I don’t feel like we stand out,” Patterson said. “I think that the mitigation efforts that we are doing at our facilities, and our campuses and throughout the county are making a difference.”
Spikes normally take a few days or even weeks after the weekend to notice because of the time it takes to develop symptoms, Patterson said. However, based on the busyness of the health department at the beginning of this week, Patterson doesn’t anticipate any significant spike following Labor Day.
Nodaway County is currently 17th in vaccination rates out of Missouri’s 114 total counties, with 39.7% of the county fully vaccinated at the time of publication, still behind the state’s 45.8% mark. Patterson estimates a few hundred residents have initiated their vaccinations per week in the few weeks since the full FDA approval of Pfizer’s vaccine.
Blackford said the hospital’s progression of getting employees vaccinated has been steady following Mosaic’s mandate announcement weeks prior. The final deadline for vaccines for all employees in the third and final tier of that rollout has still not been set.
University Wellness has been keeping track of vaccine records through surveys and incentive enrollment programs for students, staff and faculty. Chris Dawe, associate vice president of health and wellbeing, said in an email that as of Sept. 3, 33% of all Northwest students had shared vaccine info along with 54% of faculty and staff. Around 45% of on-campus students have reported they are vaccinated to the Wellness Center.
Dawe said the number is likely much higher because the reporting process is voluntary and anticipates more will share that they are vaccinated as the Sept. 13 drawing approaches.
Lt. Amanda Cullin, member of the Crisis Response Team 2, said the team has had conversations about what a possible vaccine mandate for the University could look like but is “not willing to pull that lever at this time.”
As of right now, children under the age of 12 are still unable to receive the vaccine. Vaccine trials are well underway for children ages 5 to11, and calls are growing nationally for the FDA to approve the shot for those in that age group. Patterson said he expects a large spike in vaccinations in the local area when that approval is handed out.
South Nodaway recently had to shutter schools Sept. 2-3 due to a COVID-19 outbreak and implemented a temporary mask mandate for the district, which ends Sept. 17. Before that mandate, no area public schools had implemented a similar policy.
“You pause, you regroup and you go back at it and try to interrupt that disease cycle,” Patterson said of the closure.
“Schools that see an outbreak and take proper precautions I certainly applaud them for that,” Blackford said. “At the same time, I think we all understand and appreciate that having schools in session and open to in-person classes is the best thing for students.”
Blackford, Patterson and Cullin all supported previous statements each made about the vaccine and its effectiveness, with Patterson calling it a “pretty darn good tool.”