COVID on the rise in Missouri as delta variant overwhelms hospitals – .

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COVID on the rise in Missouri as delta variant overwhelms hospitals – .


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assigned two members of the federal “rescue team” to Missouri this week to help fight the state’s COVID-19 wave.
Missouri is on a growing list of states that have seen an increase in infections, with new cases increasing 46% in the past two weeks, June 23 to July 7, with an average of 1,111 per week , up from 759 two weeks earlier, according to the data. from the Department of Health and Social Services. In the past five weeks, infections have increased by 180%.

Missouri and neighboring Arkansas now lead the country with the highest weekly per capita case rates, which translates to more than 100 per 100,000 population. New COVID-19 hospital admissions have also increased by 30% in the same two-week period, and frontline workers say patients are getting sicker faster.

The CDC’s lead team assigned to Missouri is an epidemiologist, deployed to perform genetic sequencing and data analysis in the field, and an advisor who works with local officials on how to address reluctance to vaccination.

Missouri’s immunization rate is lower than the national average. As of Friday, 46% of residents had received at least one dose and 40% were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, compared with 55% of all Americans who received at least one injection and 48% who are fully vaccinated.

“We look forward to working with them and learning more about the impact of the Delta Variant on Missouri, especially southwestern Missouri initially,” the Missouri Department of Health said of the CDC, in a statement. “More team members will be added in the coming weeks, both remotely and in person, to help with data and research, vaccination strategies and awareness. “

Low vaccination rates are having a profound impact on hospitals, especially in the southwestern part of the state. At Mercy Hospital in Springfield, more patients are currently hospitalized than at any time during the pandemic. More than 88% of intensive care patients are on ventilators, and the hospital had to request additional machines from other hospitals in its network when it ran out earlier this week.

“This is the worst I have ever seen,” hospital nurse Emily McMichael told ABC News. “These patients are a lot sicker and a lot younger than what we saw the last time, so it’s really sad to see. And a large part of the population is not vaccinated. “

It is not only Mercy. At the Lake Regional Hospital in the Lake of the Ozarks region, the health care system braced for an increase this week.

“We are experiencing an increase in the number of deaths from COVID-19 in our community,” Dane Henry, CEO of the Lake Regional Health System, wrote Thursday in a letter to the community. According to Henry, six COVID patients died in hospital in the first week of July, compared to six deaths throughout June and just one COVID death in May.

“At Lake Regional, we are already overloaded. Our hospital is almost at full capacity and we see an exceptionally high number of emergency room patients on a daily basis, ”he wrote. “I am also very concerned about the decisions we will face if COVID cases increase, as expected. The hospitals all around us are also filling up. This means that none of us have a safety valve. “

Senior health officials have been warning for weeks that unvaccinated people are at high risk of contracting the delta variant of the virus, which was first identified in India and has since spread to more than 100 countries, including all 50 US states. The variant is now dominant in the United States and is more transmissible than the original form of the virus, according to the CDC.

In Missouri, the delta variant accounts for 73% of new sequenced cases, according to the CDC.

“We are seeing the real impact of what is happening in Southwest Missouri and our Delta Variant communities spreading rapidly through a largely unvaccinated population,” said Dr William Sistrunk, a specialist in infectious diseases in Mercy, at a press conference Wednesday. . “This variant hits and impacts our community very hard, and brings down younger and healthier people. “

Dr William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, pointed to the deep divide in hospitalization risk between vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans. “There are large swathes of the country where there are a significant number of communities that are under-vaccinated,” he said. If the delta variant enters one of these communities, it “has the potential, because it is very contagious, to spread and cause infection”.

While fully vaccinated people are fairly protected against serious illness and hospitalizations from the delta variant, this is not true for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.

“It is very unusual for a fully vaccinated person to be admitted to the hospital,” Schaffner said. “Virtually every one of these hospitalizations could have been avoided. “

Anne Flaherty of ABC News contributed to this report.

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