Springfield-Greene County Health Department head Clay Goddard addressed the Springfield City Council during their weekly lunch meeting about the state of the city’s battle against COVID-19, and at times appeared irritated at the response from parts of the community to the pandemic.
Goddard told Council that last Monday when he spoke to them during their regular Council meeting, the department had just hit a one-day record of 49 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19, and that he was reporting 60 confirmed cases yesterday.
The county has as of Tuesday morning a total of 806 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 434 considered to be active cases. There are 51 COVID-19 cases in Springfield hospitals, 18 in intensive care, and 10 on ventilators.
Only 13 of those cases are from Greene County. The largest amount of cases are connected to travel from other states, including Florida and Texas.
The majority of the new cases are between 20 and 30 years old, leading Goddard to address that younger age group.
“I understand these are stressful times and you have great anxiety and you need more than ever those social connections,” Goddard said. “But let’s stop acting like this disease won’t affect you, and let’s stop contradicting the rules in what we know will help you stop this disease. We don’t want to bring this illness home to our parents, our loved ones, our grandparents.”
Goddard then went on to talk about the department’s efforts against COVID-19 and said that while he was thankful for Council’s recent action, his department is still becoming overwhelmed with cases.
“I want to express my gratitude to the city council for passing the masking ordinance,” Goddard said to Council before going into more critical comments.
“We are undoubtedly seeing a second wave of illness,” Goddard said. “We as a state have doubled our new daily cases in the last two weeks.”
Goddard said that his department is falling behind on best practices because of the exponential increase in cases.
“We aren’t contacting people with 24 hours of their positive result and we’ve heard that frustration from our cases and our staff who feel like they’re drowning,” Goddard said. “There are more than 100 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in our community and have not yet been contacted by our health department.”
Goddard praised the Council for their masking vote, but added that masking is not the be-all, end-all for fighting the virus.
“I want to be clear that our masking ordinance is not a silver bullet,” Goddard said. “It will not solve all of our problems, it will not suppress illness completely in our community. We still have to exercise personal responsibility and we keep preaching that personal responsibility.”
“A mask is not a ticket to life as it used to be,” Goddard continued. “We need to stay at home when we’re sick, and yes, having a fever is sick regardless if you think it’s COVID-19 or not.”
Goddard said the community is showing a new vulnerability.
“This illness is looking for our vulnerabilities and I would say we have a new one as a community,” Goddard said. “Our biggest vulnerability as a community right now appears to be apathy. Our memory is short, our patience wore out, and we stopped applying what we learned during these orders about our new normal. We find ourselves rapidly approaching a point in this pandemic where it’s becoming unmanageable. I’m calling on all us to make small, necessary sacrifices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”