Mercy Hospital

Mercy Hospital pictured from the intersection of Third Street and Highway 47 Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Seventeen more Franklin County residents have died of COVID-19, pushing the county’s death toll to 147, according to the county health department. 

Those reported to have died from the virus are two men in their 50s; three men and one woman in their 60s; two men and one woman in their 70s; four men and one woman in their 80s; and one man and two women in their 90s.

The deaths, which occurred between Dec. 8 through late January, were only announced after the cause of death was certified by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The certification process can take several weeks, if not months, to complete, which can cause a delay in the reporting of COVID-19 fatalities. 

Franklin County Health Department officials also announced over the weekend that they were awaiting confirmation for nine other fatalities due to the virus. Those deaths, known as COVID-19 probable deaths, are tracked by the county health department until confirmation is made by the state. There are a total of 22 probable deaths within Franklin County awaiting confirmation.

Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker — who serves as the public information officer for the county regarding the pandemic — wrote in an email to The Missourian that the decline in new cases the health department is reporting is now considered a trend.

The county health department reported 20 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Those cases are included in the 32 cases reported this week and the 8,829 cases reported since the pandemic began. 

There were 10 active COVID-19 cases reported in long-term care facilities Tuesday, which account for both residents and staff. There also were 10 county residents reported hospitalized for COVID-19 between Mercy Hospital Washington and Missouri Baptist in Sullivan. 

“We consider the lower numbers a definite trend downward and expect continuation as more vaccines are administered,” Brinker said. 

To date, 8.4 percent of residents have received a COVID-19 vaccine, including 8,705 people who have received the first dose of a vaccine. During the past week, 2,288 doses were administered to county residents, according to data from the state health department. 

Mercy Clinic Washington and Four Rivers President Dr. David Chalk said, as of Monday, a total of 11,367 vaccines had been administered by clinic and hospital staff. Those receiving a vaccine at Mercy include both Franklin County and non-county residents.

Chalk said 6,324 people have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 5,043 have received their second dose. 

Chalk said the winter weather Monday had minimal impact on vaccine distribution. 

“We started earlier (Monday) morning and tried to call in as many people as possible to come early and get it,” Chalk said. “We did have a number of people who asked to reschedule.”

Chalk said the majority of those who requested to reschedule were to receive the second dose of their vaccine, which they will now receive later this week. 

The Franklin County Health Department will be coordinating with other local public health agencies on future vaccine availability as it continues to rollout, according to Brinker.


Clinics Canceled 

The mass vaccinations that were scheduled to be held Feb. 15-19 were canceled due to inclement weather.

“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events.

“This week, the mass vaccination program was also scheduled to administer second doses of the Pfizer vaccine,” Parson said. “These events are being postponed, but doses will be retained in the region. Plans are being made to administer these doses as promptly as possible.”

Cancellation of the events will not change the weekly regional vaccine allocations nor will the delay affect the efficacy for those receiving the booster, according to the governor’s office.