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Health Department guidance calls on the coronavirus ordinance to be removed if 50% of eligible residents are vaccinated, among other provisions.
Graphic provided by Springfield-Greene County Health Department
Health Department guidance calls on the coronavirus ordinance to be removed if 50% of eligible residents are vaccinated, among other provisions.

Health Department lays out thresholds to relax virus rules

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As more local residents get vaccinated against COVID-19 and cases decrease, city officials are looking at a future with reduced public health rules.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department presented yesterday during a City Council luncheon on what it would take to begin relaxing rules for social distancing, masking and business occupancy.

“We have reached a point where the end is in sight, where we can start to relax and breathe a sigh of relief — but while we’re close, we still have more of this race to run,” said Katie Towns, acting Health Department director, in a news release. “We have to take steps cautiously so that we don't ruin all that we have accomplished to keep our community safe and protect one another."

The city's COVID-19 safety ordinance is slated to be removed altogether if these criteria are met: 50% of eligible residents – roughly 238,871 people at least 16 years old – are vaccinated, and the city shows less than 20 new cases per day and less than 20 hospital patients in COVID-19 isolation per day, according to documentation presented by Towns on Tuesday.

If reached, that would mean an end to face mask requirements and occupancy restrictions.

Towns said at the council luncheon that while it's difficult to project when the threshold would be met, she estimates vaccine capacity would allow for the 50% figure to be reached in May or June.

Around mid-April, Towns projects a move to the next phase of recovery, which would remove most occupancy restrictions but continue to require masks. That threshold requires a 25% vaccination rate, under 40 new cases per day and less than 50 hospital patients in COVID-19 isolation per day.

Mayor Ken McClure said at the meeting that council soon is slated to consider a revised ordinance, as the current statute runs through April 9.

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