Health officials are blaming a low vaccination rate and the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus for a surge in hospitalizations and deaths there and are sending a government team to help.
"We're already starting to see places with low vaccination rates starting to have relatively big spikes from the delta variant," Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health said in a CNN report Wednesday. "We've seen this in Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming. ... Those are the places where we're going to see more hospitalizations and deaths as well, unfortunately. And any time you have large outbreaks, it does become a breeding ground for potentially more variants."
According to CNN, the state is now the second highest in the nation with 15.5 new cases per 100,000 people a day.
Two big factors, health officials say, for the surge are the new delta variant of the virus with a higher transmission rate and the low percentage of vaccinations in the state.
According to the state, there have been about 5 million doses administered total, but some of those millions were second shots to the same persons. Only 39% of Missourians are fully vaccinated, one of the lower percentages in the country.
Just three counties in the state demonstrate a low transmission rate, with most counties showing high transmission of the virus, especially the delta variant that rampaged through India earlier this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new variant accounts for 73.3% of new cases in the state.
"If ever there was a reason to get vaccinated, this is it," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases head Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Tuesday. "There are places in the world, where people would do anything to get vaccine, and yet we have a substantial proportion of people in very specific regions of the country who just do not want to get vaccinated."
Federal personnel are being deployed to the state from the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services as well as from FEMA to regions like Missouri with low vaccination rates, but increased cases.
The team bound for Missouri will include an epidemiologist, research assistants, a health communication specialist, contact tracers, and others to help with getting more people vaccinated, the CNN story said.
"More team members will be added, both remotely and in person, to assist with data and research, vaccine uptake strategies and outreach," Lisa Cox, a communications director with the Missouri Health Department said.
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