COVID-19 cases increase in Miller County

Health officials are encouraging residents take advantage of free vaccination clinics to stem a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Lake Sun Staff
USA TODAY NETWORK

The Miller County Health Center has had nearly 100 new cases of COVID-19 among residents reported over the last four weeks. The county had an active caseload of 42 known cases. Of the new recent cases, five are known to have required hospitalization and there was one known death reported as of June 18.  

Many of the new cases are associated with the workplace including restaurants, resorts, and factories, according to information provided by the health department.

Numbers in the three counties surrounding Lake of the Ozarks had stabilized through May but June has seen an increase.

Miller County Health Department Director Mike Herbert said most disease prevention practices have ceased over recent weeks, causing the numbers to start to climb back up.  

“People are traveling, gathering in groups, not wearing masks, and what is most important in Miller County, not getting vaccinated. Only 20% of Miller County residents have been vaccinated. Miller County has the lowest rates in Central Missouri and far below the state rate of 50%,” Herbert said. “Vaccination hesitation within our community will result in continued outbreaks, hospitalizations, and deaths. The vaccines are virtually 100% in preventing hospitalizations and deaths.”

The health department is encouraging residents to take advantage of the next vaccination clinic at the Miller County Health Center in Tuscumbia on June 24, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Herbert said the health department will be providing Moderna vaccine that will require a second dose within about four weeks.

Employers who would like to offer the vaccine to employees can contact the health department. In some situations, Herbert said the health department may be able to come to the employers. Vaccinated employees result in less sick time used and no quarantine when exposed. The health department has appreciated the employers who have encouraged Miller County residents to get vaccinated, he said.

It is important to understand that the COVID-19 rapid antigen test is now available over the counter. They can be purchased at many retailers and are free from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Not all residents that get a positive test result will report it to public health. In addition, many residents elect to not get tested when they are ill. Therefore, the health department must assume that the data on their dashboard used for tracking COVID-19 numbers is significantly underreported, he said.  

Camden County is also seeing numbers slowly creep up. As of June 18, the county reported 72 active cases, up from June 7 when the health department was tracking 38 cases. The numbers started going back up in June. As of May 25, Camden County was reporting only 11 active cases. The most recent numbers provided by the Morgan County Health Center show 22 active cases with one person currently hospitalized.

The trend in Miller and Camden County is following the same pattern as other counties in central and southern Missouri where vaccination rates are lagging behind the rest of the state.

For more information call 573-369-2400 or visit http://millercountyhealth.com/covid-19 to register. Walk-ins are welcome at the clinic on June 24.