As America emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, Missouri is turning out to be a cautionary tale for the rest of the country: It’s seeing an alarming rise in cases due to a combination of the rapidly spreading Delta version and stubborn resistance among many people. is. Getting vaccinated.

Intensive care beds are filling up with surprisingly young, unvaccinated patients, and staff members are burning while fighting a battle that was in its final stages.

There is hope among some health leaders that the rest of America can at least learn something from Missouri’s plight.

“If people elsewhere in the country are looking at us and saying, ‘No thanks’ and they’re getting vaccinated, that’s good,” said Eric Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield. The variant, as first identified in India, is largely through the non-immunized community. “We’ll be canaries.”

The state now leads the country with the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections, and politically conservative agriculture is growing in the northern part of the state and in the southwestern corner, including Springfield and Branson. Including, the country music mecca in the Ozark Mountains where there are big crowds Assembly Again in the city’s cinemas and other attractions.

While more than 53% of all Americans have received at least one shot, most southern and northern Missouri counties have less than 40%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One county is at just 13%.

Frederick said cases are well below their winter highs in southwestern Missouri, but the trajectory is faster than in previous surges. As of Tuesday, 153 COVID-19 patients had been hospitalized at Mercy and another Springfield hospital, Cox Health, up from 31 a month earlier, county figures show.

These patients are younger than earlier in the pandemic – 60% to 65% of those in the ICU at Mercy over the weekend were under 40, according to Frederick, who noted that young adults are much less likely to be vaccinated – and some are pregnant.

He is hiring traveling nurses and respiratory therapists to help his exhausted workforce as the rest of the country tries to leave the pandemic behind.

“I think at this time last year it was health care heroes and everyone was celebrating and bringing food to the hospital and praying, and now everyone’s like, ‘The lake is open. Let’s go. ‘ We are still doing that here,” he said.

There are also warning signs across the state line: Arkansas on Tuesday reported its biggest one-day jump in cases in more than three months. The vaccination rate is also low in the state.

Lagging rates – particularly among young adults – are becoming a growing source of concern elsewhere across the country, as is the delta version.

The CDC said Tuesday that the mutant variant now accounts for more than 20% of new COVID-19 infections in the US, doubling in just two weeks. It accounts for half of new cases across the region, including Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

“The delta variant is currently the biggest threat to our effort to eliminate COVID-19 in America,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. He said there is a “real risk” of a local surge in places with deep vaccine resistance, like Missouri.

To help counter the threat, administration officials are stepping up efforts to vaccinate Americans ages 18 to 26, who are less likely to get the shot when it is available.

Elsewhere around the world, the UK, with a vaccination rate even higher than the US, has postponed the removal of remaining restrictions on socializing in England due to the rapid spread of the variant. Israel, another vaccination success story, is responding by making stricter rules on travellers.

In Missouri, Republican Governor Mike Parson has taken the position that it is better to ask people to take “personal responsibility” than to enforce sanctions.

Missouri never had a mask mandate, and Parson signed on A law last week banned public health restrictions and barred governments from requiring proof of vaccination to use public facilities and transportation.

Missouri Health Department spokeswoman Lisa Cox said the agency is encouraging people to get vaccinated, but acknowledged: “This is show-me state and Missourians are skeptical.”

Frederick said some people in the heavily Republican state are resistant because he thinks Democrats are pushing the vaccine.

He said, ‘I keep telling people that when we are busy fighting with each other, this thing is taking us away one by one. “It doesn’t take any sides. It has no political affiliations. It’s not red. It’s not blue. It’s a virus. And if we don’t protect ourselves, we’re going to do a lot of damage to our community.” “

Cox Health CEO Steve Edwards laments Tweet While several major news organizations have contacted the hospital about the increase in cases, Granthshala News was not among them.

“Granthshala,” he tweeted, “is the most popular cable news in our area – you can help educate, get vaccines and save lives on Delta.”

Lisa Meeks, 49, of Springfield, is among those who have not been vaccinated. She said that she is a Christian and God has given her a strong immune system.

“As of right now, no one knows anything long term or short term about these vaccines because they are brand new,” she said, despite months of real-world evidence that the vaccines are highly safe and effective. “And so people are basically lab rats now.”

An offer of free beer for vaccinated people from Mother’s Brewing Company in Springfield drew a disappointing 20 to 50 people to each of the first three clinics.

“We keep trying,” said Jeff Schrag, owner and founder of Mother’s Brewing. “It’s a game of inches.”

As vaccination slows, the delta variant has become the dominant form of the virus in the region. Aaron Shecorra, a spokesman for the Springfield-Green County Health Department, said it makes up 93% of the random sample of cases the county is sending in for analysis, up from 70% three weeks ago.

He said unvaccinated people who gathered for graduation ceremonies and Memorial Day celebrations also fueled the spread of the virus. The incidents happened after the community withdrew its mask mandate.

“My concern,” he said, “would be that this is a preview of things to come in other parts of the country that don’t have high vaccination rates.”