CoronavirusNewsThe SouthSider

Southwestern Missouri sees 17 new COVID deaths in virus surge

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Seventeen more people in southwestern Missouri died from COVID-19 in a two-week period ending Sunday as the coronavirus continues to surge in the region, officials said.

The deaths were recorded in the two-week reporting period from June 21 to July 4 and were disclosed Tuesday by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. The dead ranged in age from 40s to 90s, and none of those who died was fully vaccinated, health officials said.

The latest surge is being driven by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, first identified in India, said Katie Towns, acting director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

“It’s our responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this deadly virus by getting vaccinated,” Towns said.

Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, said Wednesday at a press conference in his Capitol office that his administration had done “everything possible” to fend off outbreaks.

News of the elevated deaths in Greene County came after Mercy Springfield hospital experienced a shortage of ventilators over the July Fourth weekend.

Missouri has reported nearly 530,000 cases of the virus and 9,375 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The state has administered more than 5 million vaccine doses, with 44.9% of the population initiating vaccination.

Parson said he was focused on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on making the shot available to them. He said he was still wary of incentivizing vaccinations with prizes.

“Right now, the vaccine’s out there,” Parson said. “I mean, people walk past it every day, whether they’re in a pharmacy, whether they’re in a Walmart, whether they’re in a health center.”

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