Parts of southern Missouri are registering around 60 cases per 100,000 residents a day. By comparison, New York City, a major outbreak zone at the start of the pandemic, is averaging about 2.6 cases each day per 100,000 residents, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
The Delta variant is considered to be a more deadly and about 50 per cent more contagious strain of Covid-19. Previous infection appears to provide little protection against this version of the virus.
And just 39 per cent of Missouri residents have been fully vaccinated. In Camden and Miller counties – home to the popular tourist destination Lake of the Ozarks – even fewer have gotten the shots necessary to be protected against the virus. In Camden County, just 32.3 per cent have been fully vaccinated, and in Miller County, that figure is down to 21.1 per cent.
The Missouri Department of Health has stated that three counties near Lake of the Ozarks are Covid-19 hot spots. The tourist destination played host to a gathering at the start of last summer which became infamous for its blatant violations of Covid-19 safety guidelines.
The fire chief in Springfield, David Pennington, tweeted on Thursday: “This is a mass casualty event, happening in slow-motion. EMS resources are depleted, and the hospital systems are overwhelmed. Our community is in crisis.”
About 58 per cent of American adults overall have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Compared to other countries, that’s a high figure, but it’s still way off the between 70 and 90 per cent some scientists believe is necessary to achieve herd immunity.
Across the US, the number of Covid-19 cases is steady, but those numbers are hiding two increasingly separate Americas, where cases continue to plummet in urban and suburban areas, but rise in more rural and less populated areas, such as Missouri, that trend more conservative and where people are more hesitant to get vaccinated.
The director of the CDC, Dr Rachel Walensky, said at a recent press briefing that “preliminary data from several states over the last few months suggest that 99.5 per cent of deaths from Covid-19 in the United States were in unvaccinated people”.
According to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation Poll, 72 per cent of adult urban residents have received at least one dose – while the same is true for only 54 per cent of adults who live in more rural areas.
A spokesperson for Lake Regional Health told The Daily Beast: “We are already stretched to our limit.”
“To be completely blunt – We need you to get vaccinated now. If you haven’t already, please roll up your sleeve. Do it to protect yourself, your family, and this community,” the spokesperson added.
“Right now at Lake Regional, we over the last several weeks have seen a very steady and increasing number of admissions to the hospital that our patients suffering, you know, from the Covid virus,” Dane Henry, CEO of Lake Regional Health Systems, told KY3.
“About two months ago, we had between one to two, maybe three or four patients per day, and over the last six or seven weeks that have steadily climbed to the point now where on Sundays we’ve hovered in the high 20s and low 30s,” he added.
Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, told The Daily Beast that “this is all completely preventable. I don’t think it could ever get as bad as it was last year, but things are bound to get worse with the Delta variant before it gets better. We will see a higher uptick in places that have lower vaccination rates, like Missouri. The higher the vaccination rate, the lower the numbers”.
But many area residents and visitors don’t care, and some health officials believe it’s possible that some Trump supporters refuse to get the shots to stop the Biden administration from reaching its vaccination goals.
“There’s a part of me, in thinking through this – are there folks who are still going back to the election results and saying, ‘You know what, the current administration set a goal so we’re going to do our part to make sure they don’t hit their goal?’” Craig McCoy, president of Mercy Springfield Communities, told Bloomberg.
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