Health Department Head Goddard to Community: Do Better

The head of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has a message for parts of the area: do better when it comes to protecting yourself from COVID-19.

During a Thursday press conference announcing the county’s eighth death, Goddard showed visible frustration over the behavior of some county residents who appear to be flaunting the advice of public health and medical professionals regarding the novel coronavirus.

“We have to do better!” Goddard said at a Thursday press conference, bumping his fist on the podium for emphasis.

“If you are sick and don’t know, you could spread the disease to someone who are not,” Goddard said. “If you are not sick, you could be walking next to someone who is sick and they do not know their diagnosis. Please. Stay home!”

Goddard addressed the fact health officials are aware that many were self-isolating before official orders came from local officials to stay at home and that “cabin fever” is starting to impact many residents. However, Goddard said that it was important to remember that transmission can only take place when infected residents come into close contact with non-infected residents, so staying home is the best way to avoid the spread of the disease.

Goddard became visibly irritated when discussing how 18 of the county’s recent COVID-19 cases come from people who traveled to areas of higher outbreak and became infected, thus bringing the virus to Greene County.

“To be perfectly honest with you, I’m a little dumbfounded that I have to talk about travel,” Goddard said, noting that the travel from the newly infected patients is both domestic and international travel.

“This is not the time for leisure travel, or travel of any kind,” Goddard said. “We are asking that you wait to go see your family that does not live here. We ask that you take this seriously and do not risk bringing any more of this disease back to our community. This is not only a personal responsibility, but it is your responsibility to protect this community that we all share.”

In all, 81 percent of Greene County’s COVID-19 cases are people who either traveled during the outbreak or who were directly connected to someone who traveled to an area of high infection.

Goddard also noted recent cases that had visited businesses while being infectious, opening up the low possibility for community spread.

“This is an important reminder that we should be staying at home as much as possible,” Goddard said.

Goddard also took issue with residents who have been engaging in group activities in public in recent days, including basketball games in city parks.

“There’s always going to be risk when you’re in close physical contact with others and that’s why we recommend you avoid those kinds of activities,” Goddard said. “I fully comprehend that it’s hard to do that, especially when the weather’s nice…the highest risk for transmission is when somebody who is sick is in close physical proximity to someone who is well.”

Goddard showed later that he was still vexed by the ways people are ignoring advice not to travel, posting on Twitter a few hours after the press conference: “I can’t believe I had to talk about travel today.”

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