In his Thursday briefing, Gov. Mike Parson said that because of Missouri’s balanced approach to fighting the pandemic, the state is on the right path.
“Our data shows that we are doing the right thing,” Parson said. Currently, he noted the populations’ infection rate is fewer than 10% for the first time since October. Right before the holidays, he added, the infection rate was about 24 percent. The number of infected people is at its lowest since the summer and hospital admission rates have continued to decline, as well, he said.
As of Wednesday last week, Parson said, there were just over 1,400 hospitalized patients in the state. That is down from a high of more than 2,800 in November.
With the spread of the virus slowing, he noted, the state is headed in the right direction. On the vaccine front, he added, the state was making headway, having administered more than 50,000 doses in a single day. At least 81% of the vaccine that the state received has been administered to the public, he said. But that does not include the vaccines that are part of the federal program through CVA and Walgreens.
Parson defended the state’s distribution program for the vaccine, stating that the rumors that it is not being fairly distributed—especially in the St. Louis area—are not true.
He talked about the recent partnership with selected hospitals in each region of the state and that 53% of the weekly allocation of the vaccine is being distributed through those hospitals.
“In the St. Louis area, BJC, SSM, Mercy, St. Luke’s, St. Louis County Health Department make up the region’s throughput providers,” he said. Even though he noted that the region had received an amount of the vaccine in line with its population, the St. Louis County Health Department did not receive what had been agreed upon.
He did say that this week, the Health Department would be receiving 3,000 doses per week, and that amount would increase as supplies increased.
Parson said he was tired of the leaders who were misleading the people of St. Louis.
“Dr. (Alex) Garza has been making statements that have been absolutely false,” Parson said. Garza is part of the state’s COVID task force.
Parson said that there were four National Guard units operating in St. Louis and Kansas City, administering the vaccine—two teams in each city. These Guard units, he noted, were working with local clergy to identify those who need the vaccine.
When the state receives its weekly supply of the vaccine, Parson said, it is proportionately distributed based on the Highway Patrol’s nine regions.
He said the demand for the vaccine is still outweighing the supply, but the state is working to meet the demands with the supplies it its receiving.
To help with getting the vaccine to the people who need it, Parson said the state launched an online portal last week. This Missouri Vaccine Navigator is for people interested in receiving the vaccine to pre-register by filling out a survey online. It lets them know if they are eligible and notifies them when that phase of the vaccine distribution program is active.
Once they are eligible, Parson said, they could receive the vaccine from their health care provider. If that provider does not have the vaccine, he added, the navigator would help the individuals find mass vaccination events or other providers in their areas.
The federal government, he said, was partnering with Walmart and Healthmart pharmacies to distribute the vaccine. Missouri, he added, did not have a say in which pharmacies were chosen. But 81 Walmart pharmacies and 21 Healthmart pharmacies would be receiving the vaccine this week.
The governor was also notified of a Federally Qualified Health Center program that would be starting this week to distribute the vaccine to underserved and vulnerable communities. That program would get the vaccine directly from the federal government. And in addition to that, the state’s weekly allotment would be increased by another 5%.
On another topic, Parson discussed making sure that people have ample access to fuel to keep their homes warm. He noted the extremely cold temperatures the people were enduring throughout the state. He also noted that the weather has had an impact on the distribution of the vaccine.