The Missouri Department of Health this week released a hot spot notice for three counties in the Lake of the Ozarks region: Camden, Miller and Morgan.
The agency predicted that these areas could be the next to be hit hard by the delta variant due to the spread from the southwestern Missouri region.
It comes as leaders of hospitals in Missouri this week renewed their calls for vaccinations in hopes of averting another wave.
Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth, tweeted Thursday that within a month, the delta variant could spread and hit other areas of the state just as hard as southwestern Missouri.
“By begging people to get vaccinated while there is still time,” Edwards tweeted. “If you could see the exhaustion in the eyes of our nurses who keep closing body bags, we beg you.”
Lake Regional Health System on Thursday limited emergency room patients to a single support person and is now monitoring visitors, KRCG-TV reported.
“We need you to get vaccinated now,” wrote CEO Dane Henry in an open letter. “If you haven’t already, please roll up your sleeve. Do it to protect yourself, your family and this community. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, free and readily available. Most importantly, they are the best. protection against hospitalization and death.
The cases of St. Louis are also increasing. Dr Faisal Khan, director of the St. Louis County Public Health Department, said the county’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases increased by 30% over the past week, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch. reported. Khan, he expects cases to continue to rise, and officials in the region have called on people to get vaccinated to reduce the potential outbreak.
Three of Missouri’s top health officials said on Friday that trusted local leaders and community representatives must be the main influencers in the state’s efforts to curb an increase in COVID-19 cases.
In a virtual press conference, Robert Knodell, acting director of the Missouri Department of Health and Elderly Services, said the state continues to have close relationships with federal health experts, but that they all believed that local health workers and community representatives were the best way to persuade residents to get vaccinated.
Knodell said officials from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that people from out of state cannot “parachute” into the state to persuade people to get vaccinated.
“We’re on the same page when it comes to this,” Knodell said. “So we’ve had various conversations about who are effective local messengers in rural communities as well as in our inner cities… The federal government is more than willing to engage with us in these conversations with trusted local messengers and provide us with messages of materials and efforts that have been successful elsewhere.
The comments came after Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parson said this week that he can’t stand a suggestion of President Joe Biden’s administration that government workers are going door to door urging people to get vaccinated.
Jeffrey Zeints, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, responded that the program would rely on local doctors, religious leaders and others, and to suggest otherwise was “misinformation.”
State epidemiologist Dr George Turabelidze said federal officials have yet to provide the state with details on how federal “emergency response” teams might operate. But he warned that the delta variant was spreading mainly from rural areas to larger populations and health officials don’t expect the wave to “turn around quickly” unless more people are vaccinated.
Turabelidze said vaccinations are the best way to prevent “another winter with masks, covered faces, limited travel (and) limited social life.”
“Nobody wants that,” Turabelidze said.