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Citing COVID-19, CVB postpones awards banquet

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The Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau Inc.'s annual awards banquet ceremony has been postponed due to rising COVID-19 cases in the community.

The CVB announced in a news release yesterday that the Salute to Travel & Tourism awards banquet would be held April 28 at the White River Conference Center, instead of its originally scheduled date of Feb. 18.

"The CVB staff is in the process of notifying award recipients and people who have purchased tickets about the date change," officials said in the release.

The ceremony is slated to honor Gary Ellison, owner of Gary Ellison Productions Inc., with its top Pinnacle Award, among other honors, according to past reporting.

CVB spokesperson Susan Wade said she was unaware of any other group events that have been postponed or canceled due to the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director Katie Towns last week issued a warning about rising case numbers, indicating the county is seeing the beginning of what will be the worst surge yet," and that "every part of our community could be impacted, from our health care systems to our schools and our workplaces."

At CoxHealth, system leaders are seeking health care students to serve in temporary support roles during the surge, according to a separate news release. The students will get paid experience while filling clinical and nonclinical support roles.

“We are experiencing high volumes at all of our campuses due to COVID-19, and these student positions will provide support to our staff as they continue to care for our patients,” said Andrew Hedgpeth, CoxHealth's vice president of human resources, in the release. “Students will have the opportunity to gain experience while caring for our community during this urgent time of need.”

The Health Department's COVID-19 dashboard shows a seven-day average of 457 daily cases and 206 currently hospitalized in Greene County as of this morning. The vaccination rate for the eligible population in the county is 52.1%.

The Health Department yesterday announced a campaign called Slow the Surge, which calls on residents to wear masks, receive vaccinations and booster shots, and take tests if they're feeling symptoms. The Health Department urges group event attendees to take precautions, such as wearing masks, said spokesperson Aaron Schekorra.

“We recognize the sacrifices that have been made,” said Jon Mooney, assistant director of health, in a news release. “Now, in the face of this unprecedented surge, we are asking you to dig deep and do a little more for a little longer.”

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