The US government is sending a Covid-19 surge team to provide public health support to southwest Missouri, which is currently battling the spread of the Delta variant and causing hospital beds to fill up at exponential rates.
In the city of Springfield, Missouri the CoxHealth hospital system has already begun transferring patients to other facilities that have better staffing. The Missouri Covid-19 caseload is currently the second highest in America with an average of 16 new cases per 100,000 people appearing everyday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
“We’re already starting to see places with low vaccination rates starting to have relatively big spikes from the Delta variant,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
“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,” he explained.
According to the CDC, 39.4% of Missouri residents are fully vaccinated while 56% have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Overall, the data is showing that Covid-19 is more likely to remain in less vaccinated communities, especially as the Delta variant continues to spread, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If there was ever a reason to get vaccinated, this is it. America has ample vaccine supply, but there is still a significant portion of people who don’t want the shots.”
“There are places in the world where people would do anything to get a 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.”
The Biden administration said it would be deploying response teams composed of individuals from the CDC throughout the country in response to the spreading of the Delta variant. Members of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will also be deployed to areas of the country where vaccination rates are low.
“The surge team in Missouri will include an epidemiologist, research assistants, a health communication specialist, contact tracers and others who will help with vaccination and outreach, according to the health department. More team members will be added, both remotely and in person, to assist with data and research, vaccine uptake strategies and outreach,” said Lisa Cox, a communications director with the Missouri health department.
So far 47.5% of the US population has been fully vaccinated. Two months ago the US was fully vaccinating individuals at a rate of about 490,000 a day, that number has since plateaued. The US Food and Drug Administration could potentially approve of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine this month which would likely sway many more Americans to get vaccinated; right now the vaccine is simply approved for emergency use as all the others are.
“That will be a telltale sign for them to say ‘Why am I on the fence any longer? This has now been fully approved by the FDA,’ and even though it’s got a great record already, that will I think be another stamp of approval,” said Andy Slavitt, a former White House senior adviser for Covid Response.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.