Area hospitalization rates climb for unvaccinated

July 22, 2021


Lamar Democrat

As of Thursday, July 22, there were eight patients at Cox Barton County Hospital in Lamar that are being treated for the Delta variant of COVID-19. This is only eight out of a total of 163 that are currently in the CoxHealth system and according to Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth, the worst part of the situation is that there is a way out through vaccination, stressing that right at 99 percent of those currently hospitalized are unvaccinated. A total amount of 26 patients in the CoxHealth system were reported to have died in the seven day period between Wednesday, July 14 and Wednesday, July 21. The total since the beginning of the pandemic stands at 526. According to Edwards, there have been no deaths of a vaccinated patient to date.

Edwards stated that projections show that cases, while currently near a record high, will peak in mid August at around 230. He added, “The hospitals are quickly filling up and there will be nowhere to go”. With this in mind, several options are being addressed as to steps that can be taken by those feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms prior to coming to the ER, including urgent care, a doctor’s office visit or Telemedicine as a means of reducing admissions.

According to Edwards it seems that every time they reach their limit, the CoxHealth team of dedicated employees manage to rearrange the process as they continue to evolve and adapt, but stated that truthfully, they are worn out from fighting what he believes is a disease that can be controlled.

When asked how he felt about southwest Missouri being in the news regarding the outbreak of the Delta variant, he stated that it is happening all across the United States, that it just happened here first and that the job of CoxHealth is now to warn others and be harbingers of what to expect if a vaccination is not received. He stated, “It’s not about people, it’s about a highly transmittable virus and it’s coming your way”.

CoxHealth continues to work with various area hospitals, mainly through the Missouri Hospital Association, but Edwards commented that they also keep the lines of communication open consistently as to what is transpiring in their communities.

CoxHealth is working closely with the state regarding programs, including waivers for respiratory therapists to be able to travel to Missouri from other states, the setting up of alternative sites for patients convalescing from COVID and also a location for the homeless who become infected, all made in an attempt to help stop the spread.

While fully vaccinated people are fairly protected from severe disease and hospitalization from the Delta variant, that's not true for the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and as Edwards stated, “Every death is avoidable, if one does not receive the vaccination for themselves, then please do it for the benefit of others.”