St. Mary's Hospital hired about two dozen new nurses in anticipation of a COVID-19 surge. More are expected to be hired.

JEFFERSON CITY – Cole County has been designated a COVID-19 hotspot by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, but local lawmakers have no intention of imposing a mask mandate despite updated CDC guidelines.

Cases in the county are steadily on the rise and approaching what they were at the peak in November of 2020. 

The CDC recently updated its recommendation for masks saying they should be worn indoors and when keeping distance isn’t possible.

“We’ve certainly seen our numbers of active COVID admissions increase to levels that we previously saw in November and December,” Dr. Lenora Adams an official at St. Mary’s Hospital, said. Their worst day saw 41 cases on November 11, and just this past week the worst day saw 35.

In anticipation of cases increasing still, St. Mary’s hired about two dozen new nurses and intends to hire about 20 more as they brace for the surge that is expected to get even worse.

“We haven’t had a mandate during the entire pandemic," Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said. "What we’ve done locally is encourage people to continue to get the information out about why they should keep their distance and mask if they can’t maintain that six feet."

“Last year we did not do a mask mandate we did advisories. We like to think our citizens are intelligent enough that if they don’t feel comfortable somewhere they should wear a mask,” Sam Bushman, presiding Cole County Commissioner, said.

He went on to say, “You have the right to not get vaccinated, but it would be so much easier if we’d all just get vaccinated and we get the herd immunity.”

Lawmakers feign mask mandates as health officials urge citizens to wear masks, keep distance and wash hands frequently.

For those still on the fence about getting vaccinated Dr. Adams had this to say:

"At this point a one on one conversation with your personal physician who has known you for a long time, who has taken care of you, and that you trust with your health. It's time to talk with them about your personal risks, what to expect if you were to contract COVID, and weighing out any potential adverse effects from the vaccine. Talk to your personal physician one on one to get the most accurate information."

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Cole County lawmakers will not impose a mask mandate.

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