COVID surging in Missouri as delta variant overwhelms hospitals

(ABC News)   Missouri is among a growing list of states that have seen rising infections, with new cases increasing 46% over the last two weeks, from June 23 to July 7, with an average of 1,111 per week, up from 759 two weeks prior, according data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Over the past five weeks, infections have risen 180%.

Missouri and neighboring Arkansas now lead the nation with the highest weekly case rates per capita, which translates into more than 100 per 100,000 residents. New COVID-19 hospital admissions also rose 30% over the same two-week span, and front-line workers say patients are becoming sicker more quickly.

Missouri’s vaccination rate trails the national average. As of Friday, 46% of residents had received at least one dose, and 40% were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, compared with 55% of all Americans who’ve gotten at least one shot and 48% who are fully vaccinated.

Top health officials have been warning for weeks that unvaccinated people have a high risk of contracting the delta variant of the virus, which was first identified in India and has since spread to more than 100 countries, including all 50 U.S. states. The variant is now dominant in the U.S. and is more transmissible than the original form of the virus, according to the CDC.

In Missouri, the delta variant makes up 73% of sequenced new cases, according to the CDC.

While fully vaccinated people are fairly protected from severe disease and hospitalization from the delta variant, that’s not true for the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

“It’s very unusual for a fully vaccinated person to be admitted to the hospital,” Schaffner said. “Virtually every one of those hospitalizations could have been prevented.”

ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

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