Springfield mayor warns national audience that the COVID 'surge is coming' on 'Face the Nation'
In an interview with "Face the Nation" on CBS, Springfield Mayor Ken McClure warned Missouri and the nation that "the surge is coming."
Following weeks of national attention amid southwest Missouri's Delta variant surge and low vaccination rates, McClure appeared this Sunday on "Face the Nation" to detail Springfield's crisis before a national audience.
“My message is that the surge is coming,” McClure said. “The Delta variant will be there. It is going to spread, it is already spreading throughout Missouri. Take advantage of this time and get your vaccination rate as high as you can.”
As of Sunday, Greene County was reporting 251 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 — with 103 of those in critical care.
Over the past week, an average of 231 new coronavirus cases were reported in Greene County each day, compared to a daily average of just 116 three weeks ago.
McClure said Springfield had been especially susceptible to the virus as an "attraction for tourism" that has been victim to online misinformation about the virus and its vaccine.
"We were seeing a lot [of misinformation] spread through social media as people are talking about fears which they have, health related fears, what it might do to them later on in their lives, what might be contained in the vaccinations. And that information is just incorrect and I think we as a society and certainly our community are being hurt by it."
Asked how the city was curbing misinformation, McClure cited the Springfield News-Leader's Sunday edition.
"The Springfield News-Leader this morning had a great article focusing on several community leaders who had taken the vaccine — why they were encouraging it. So we are working with so many entities to try to spread the word and these are trusted sources and I think that's the key to what we have to do to overcome this."
According to state data, only 34.8 percent of Greene County residents are fully vaccinated, which ranks significantly below the national average of 48.2 percent, according to data collected by the John Hopkins Hospital.
Asked about going door-to-door to offer vaccines, McClure called the controversy "overblown," adding that the Springfield Greene-County Health Department has been doing that for years.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson previously blasted health officials for going door-to-door to encourage vaccination, writing on Twitter that "sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination would NOT be an effective OR a welcome strategy in Missouri!”
In an interview with the News-Leader last week, Parson said his comments had been misconstrued, claiming they were solely directed at federal officials and that local health departments “can do whatever they need to do.”
McClure downplayed the possibility of Springfield schools requiring student vaccinations before returning this fall, labeling mandated vaccination a "touchy issue."
"Our school district is strongly encouraging that vaccinations occur... I have every confidence that the Springfield public school district will take the appropriate steps to make sure students are as safe as can be. I know they want to focus on in-person learning and I believe that they'll be able to do that."
But McClure urged other cities to get their vaccination rates up before its
"We know what the solution is — it's vaccination. People need to get it. It is readily available."