Local leaders stress need for vaccinations with cases on the rise

By The Examiner staff

The surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that started in southwest Missouri has moved across the state. 

Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. pointed out two weeks ago that the Delta variant of the disease was showing up in wastewater samples in Eastern Jackson County, and last week Independence Mayor Eileen Weir underlined the severity of situation as well.  

“The COVID news is not good in the state of Missouri,” she said. “The Delta variant is here.” 

On Friday, the city issued a public health advisory, recommending that everyone – vaccinated or not – wear a mask indoors. The city also recommends social distancing of six feet or more, frequent hand washing and other preventative steps.  

The city also reminds residents that the two-shot Pfizer vaccine is cleared for those 12 and older. The two-shot Moderna and one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. 

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Eastern Jackson County had risen to 45 a day as of Sunday, and test positivity, a 14-day rolling average, had risen to 8.8 percent, according to the Jackson County Health Department. 

Weir points out that vaccines are readily available – for free – at pharmacies and elsewhere. The city and county both have regular vaccine clinics.  

“I know there's a lot of feelings about the vaccine, and I respect those, but it is the only defense that we have right now against COVID-19,” Weir said. “So I encourage people who have not yet taken advantage of the opportunity to strongly consider that, so that we can continue to see our businesses reopen, get people back to work, get our kids back in school this summer and fall.” 

White, in recent comments to the County Legislature, made the same case: Get vaccinated and encourage others to do so, especially for the sake of young people. 

“With school starting in a couple months, I think that's going to crucial in how school reopens,” he said.