JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
At his press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Mike Parson admitted that more clarification is needed in pandemic guidance.
More Missourians are catching and being hospitalized with COVID-19 as a new variant spreads across the state and the country.
Several counties in Mid-Missouri are reporting rising numbers of cases, and an official at one hospital says medical services are overwhelmed with a shortage of help.
There are 99 people in Boone County hospitals with COVID, with eight of them are on ventilators, according to the Columbia/Boone Department of Public Health and Social Services dashboard. The health care system is currently in the yellow category, meaning hospitals are operating within their capacity but not accepting patient transfers.
Coronavirus hospitalizations have risen sharply since mid-November, approximately doubling in that time to reach an average of more than 2,000 patients per day. Health officials warn that could continue to increase and approach the record levels seen last winter.
There are 642 active COVID cases in Boone County since the dashboard was last updated Tuesday. Boone County is 10th in the state for most COVID cases, with a 10.2% positivity rate.
The Cole County Health Department reported 46 new COVID cases Tuesday, making it the second day in a row the county has reported over 40 new cases.
The most recent state profile report has nearly every county in Missouri in a high transmission zone. Meanwhile, the United States set its daily record for new coronavirus infections Tuesday.
The Biden administration rolled out a plan earlier this month to combat the omicron variant by providing free at-home tests. However, the availability of COVID tests dwindles in some areas.
The Department of Health and Senior Services provides free COVID testing. Some locations may be closed this week due to the holidays. The only Mid-Missouri location is the American Legion #1423 parking lot. Testing at the Jefferson City location will be available on Jan. 6 and 23, 2022.
The state also will ship tests to homes that request them -- a program Missouri began in May.
Pharmacists across Mid-Missouri tell ABC 17 News that at-home tests fly off the shelves as soon as they're stocked. Bill Morrissey, Kilgore's Medical Pharmacy manager, told ABC 17 that tests are gone by 2 p.m. on the day they're stocked.
Pharmacies say they saw a spike in demand for at-home COVID tests as the omicron variant became more dominant. The first case of the omicron variant in Missouri was confirmed in November and has since been found through sewage testing throughout the state.
Dr. Robin Blount with Boone Health told ABC 17 News on Tuesday that doctors, nurses and other hospital staff are catching the highly-contagious omicron variant, exacerbating the existing staffing shortages at hospitals and making it more difficult to respond to incoming COVID patients.
Blount said at least 40 staff members have tested positive for COVID and now have to isolate. The suggested isolation and quarantine period for health care workers was recently changed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help alleviate health care and other staffing shortages. The CDC announced Monday people workers who test positive only need to isolate for five days if they don't have symptoms.
Check back for updates to this developing story and watch ABC 17 News at 5 and 6.