SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Missouri now leads the nation with the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections as vaccinations lag and the Delta variant takes hold.
One person in every 1,349 people in the state was diagnosed with COVID-19 from June 13 to Sunday, new data show.
The north-central and southwest parts of the state are driving the surge, said Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
While 53.3% of the population of Americans have initiated vaccination, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most southern and northern Missouri counties are well short of 40%. And a handful of southern Missouri counties have fewer than 20% of residents vaccinated.
Data from the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard showed that the number of people hospitalized with the virus in southwestern Missouri had risen 72% from 154 at the beginning of the month to 265 on Friday. Meanwhile, hospitalizations rose statewide over that same period by nearly 11% to 747.
One reason is that the Delta variant, which is more infectious and potentially more deadly than other variants, has become dominant around Springfield and in much of southwestern Missouri, Kendra Findley, administrator of community health and epidemiology with Greene County, said.