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Council approves step toward reducing COVID-19 regulations

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Springfield City Council last night voted to dial back COVID-19 restrictions on April 16 – particularly on occupancy restrictions in public spaces and for events.

Council approved an ordinance extending current public health and safety recommendations set to expire April 9 until April 16. On that date, the regulations will shift into the yellow phase previously outlined by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

The Road to Recovery yellow phase requires masking and recommends physical distancing but removes most occupancy restrictions and allows mass gatherings of under 500 people, with larger gatherings allowed at a 50% capacity.

In order to enter the yellow phase, the Health Department set thresholds of less than 40 new cases per day, under 50 hospitalizations in COVID-19 isolation and a vaccination rate of 25% of the eligible population. As of Monday, the daily case count for Greene County was 18 and hospitalizations were at 25 patients. The vaccination rate was 19.25%, Health Department officials said.

“While we’ve not yet met our yellow vaccination goal of 25% fully vaccinated, there are many signs that are pointing us towards progress,” said Katie Towns, acting director of the Health Department.

Towns said over 32% of the population is partially vaccinated and awaiting second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. To continue raising the vaccine rate, the Health Department is hosting an April 8-9 mass vaccination event. All Missourians become eligible for the vaccine on April 9.

Officials are prepared to vaccinate 10,000 people at the event with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one dose. As of Monday, over 2,300 people had signed up for the event to be held at Missouri State University’s Hammons Student Center. Eligible individuals can sign up at Vaccine417.com.

Towns said Health Department officials feel confident enough in Springfield’s progress toward the 25% vaccination rate to recommend beginning the yellow phase on April 16.

The next step on the Road to Recovery – the green phase – will remove the ordinance as a whole, including the masking mandate. To reach that phase, the health department has outlined thresholds of less than 20 new cases per day, under 20 hospitalizations in COVID-19 isolation and a vaccination rate of 50% of the eligible population.

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