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SBJ Editorial Vice President Eric Olson, right, interviews Craig McCoy about his past year leading Mercy Springfield Communities amid the coronavirus pandemic.
McKenzie Robinson
SBJ Editorial Vice President Eric Olson, right, interviews Craig McCoy about his past year leading Mercy Springfield Communities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mercy leader connects rising COVID cases, low vaccination rates

Posted online

While Springfield’s masking mandate ended late last month, Mercy Springfield Communities President Craig McCoy expressed concern of the rising number of patients being hospitalized with COVID-19 in recent days 

At the time of the mandate’s expiration May 28, there were 43 people hospitalized in Greene County with COVID-19, according to Springfield-Greene County Health Department data. As of this morning, Mercy alone is caring for 57 people with COVID-19 in its Springfield hospital, McCoy saidnoting four patients are in the ER.  

It has spiked back up,” he said. 

The Mercy leader was Springfield Business Journal’s guest for the monthly 12 People You Need to Know live interview series. It marked the first in-person event for the series since February 2020. Since then, interviews had been livestreamed on Facebook.   

According to Springfield-Greene County Health Department data from June 14, the seven-day average for local COVID-19 cases is 78.57, and there are currently 95 hospitalizations. Of those, 37 patients are in critical care. Less than 37% of the population in Greene County has been fully vaccinated and around 42% partially vaccinated.  

The fully vaccinated rate is slightly lower – at 35.2% – when counting the Springfield metropolitan statistical area of Christian, Dallas, Greene, Polk and Webster counties.  

 “I hope people are paying attention with the spike in COVID going back up,” McCoy said. “The patients that are in the hospital with COVID are not vaccinated patients.”  

President Joe Biden set a goal last month to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by the Fourth of July. That percentage is the same set by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.  

McCoy said the issue has become politicized, noting there are too many sources of information that muddy the message.  

I’ve never seen where taking a vaccine or not taking a vaccine has been such a political issue,” he said. “If I have the ability to do something to keep you safe and potentially affect your health, why wouldn’t I do that? Not everybody has that same philosophy. But I can’t in good conscience know that I can do something to make things safer and potentially protect a friend, neighbor, family member, whoever, and not do it.”  

McCoy started at Mercy in January 2020, leading the city’s second-largest employer of roughly 9,000 employees in the Ozarks and managing its $5 billion in annual revenue. The footprint he manages covers hospitals in Springfield, Aurora, Cassville, Lebanon, Mountain View and Ozark, along with over 300 clinics and outpatient facilities. 

Slowly getting to know employees over the past 18 months amid the pandemic, McCoy said the long hours and emotionally taxing work so many in the hospitals are tasked with to treat COVID-19 patients is weighing on the staff.  

In a nutshell, they’re tired,” he said. “It’s one thing to care for somebody who’s sick. It’s another thing for a person to pass away in front of you. It’s different and it takes a toll.  But there is a resiliency among our co-workers.” 

View more photos from the event.

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