JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Cole County Health Department is urging citizens not to let their guard down as the vaccine arrives in the community.
The Jefferson City Council heard an update from the department at their virtual meeting Monday night.
The Director of the Cole County Health Department Kristi Campbell said staff is "cautiously optimistic" as new cases are continuing to decrease in the county. She mentioned they are watching other areas closely as cases rise in other areas.
As of Monday, Cole County has reported 6,665 cases of the virus, resulting in 89 deaths.
Dr. Lenora Adams from SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City said health care organizations in Columbia are reporting higher numbers and have expressed concern.
"Just because we have a vaccine in Mid-Missouri does not mean we get to stop doing our safe behaviors," Adams said.
The hospitals in Jefferson City have started vaccinating their front line workers. Campbell said the health department will likely receive the vaccine during the next phase to assist in vaccinating essential workers.
Campbell said the department and hospitals have been partnering with smaller clinics and health care providers to vaccinate those workers outside of the two hospitals.
The timeline for when the vaccine is still unclear. Campbell said the state will decide when to move into the next phase of distribution.
"There are so many variables that are changing on a day to day basis," Adams said. "The first obvious ones are how much vaccine do we have in our hospitals and in our communities."
Adams said the hospitals do not have any guarantee they will receive the vaccine it has requested and may receive less than requested.
Mayor Carrie Tergin said the city is asking people to reduce gatherings and continue to practice the same precautions during the Christmas holiday.
"It's hard as we get into the holiday season, it's natural that people would want to get together with their friends and family, but we can do this, we're almost there," Tergin said.
She mentioned the importance of following the joint advisory between the city and the county, asking people to wear masks, stay socially distanced and not gather in groups.
Last Thursday, Cole County and Jefferson City leaders met virtually to also discuss the pandemic. Cole County Health Department Director Kristi Campbell said then COVID-19 cases have started to plateau. She added the county did not see a large spike in new cases following Thanksgiving.
In the Jefferson City School District, 425 cases have been found in students and staff, and 531 have been asked to quarantine because of exposure, as of Friday.