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Federal COVID surge team arrives in Missouri as Indian Delta variant spreads rapidly

A federal COVID-19 ‘surge team’ has begun arriving in southwest Missouri, where the Delta strain first identified in India is driving an increase in cases and hospitalizations. 

The first member of President Joe Biden‘s surge team landed in Springfield on Tuesday, according to Lisa Cox, a Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services spokesperson.

It comes as the pandemic’s global death toll exceeds 4 million and the Delta variant explodes in the U.S. Heartland region, where it accounts for 80 percent of all new cases and 96 percent of cases in Missouri. Nationwide, Delta now makes up more than half of cases. 

‘We are looking forward to collaborating with them and learning more about how the Delta variant is impacting Missouri, specifically southwest Missouri initially,’ Cox told KSHB-TV.  

Daily new cases (top) are up 20% in Missouri in two weeks, hospitalizations (bottom) rose 24%

In Missouri, the seven-day average of new infections has risen

More than 80% of new infections in Midwestern states such as Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, are linked to the Delta variant

Fans do the wave during the eighth inning of a baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins Friday, July 2, 2021, in Kansas City, Missouri

Fans do the wave during the eighth inning of a baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins Friday, July 2, 2021, in Kansas City, Missouri

In Missouri, the seven-day average of new infections has risen from 760 per day to 915 in the last two weeks, an increase of 20 percent, a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data found. Hospitalizations are up 24 percent.

Biden announced his new surge response teams in a speech last week, saying they would bring additional testing, therapeutics, staffing and expertise into COVID hotspots.

‘These are dedicated teams working with communities at higher risk for or already experiencing outbreaks due to the spread of the Delta variant and their low vaccination rate,’ he said. 

According to data updated on Tuesday evening, the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, makes up 51.7 percent of all new infections nationwide.

That’s up from the 26.1 percent of cases previously linked to the the variant, meaning its prevalence has nearly doubled in two weeks.

The Delta variant has been detected in all 50 states and accounts for more than 80 percent of new infections in Midwestern states such as Iowa , Kansas and Missouri .

Hospitalizations are rising in the Show Me state, especially at Mercy Hospital Springfield, where a second ICU has been built to combat the wave of COVID cases

Hospitalizations are rising in the Show Me state, especially at Mercy Hospital Springfield, where a second ICU has been built to combat the wave of COVID cases

The prevalence of the Indian 'Delta' variant has nearly doubled in two weeks in the U.S., going from 26.1% of new infections at the end of June to 51.7%, currently. Pictured: Prevalence of variants in U.S. including Delta in dark orange (B.1.617.2)

The prevalence of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant has nearly doubled in two weeks in the U.S., going from 26.1% of new infections at the end of June to 51.7%, currently. Pictured: Prevalence of variants in U.S. including Delta in dark orange (B.1.617.2)

This means the Delta variant is now the dominant strain of coronavirus, overtaking the Alpha 'Kent' variant. Some estimates suggest it could make up as many as 70% of new cases (above)

This means the Delta variant is now the dominant strain of coronavirus, overtaking the Alpha ‘Kent’ variant. Some estimates suggest it could make up as many as 70% of new cases (above)

Health experts warn that the prevalence will only increase, and the country will continue to see localized outbreaks, unless Americans get vaccinated.

It comes as the variant continues to ravage the UK, with daily COVID-19 cases hitting the highest level since January with a 25 percent spike in one week.

This allows the variant to spread more easily than previous strains of the virus, particularly among the unvaccinated population.    

‘Vaccination is what is keeping our overall rates lower,’ Dr Stuart Ray, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, told DailyMail.com.

‘But the message is that if we don’t get serious about the vaccination rate again, we’re heading intro trouble in the tall.

‘This is part of a pattern of replacement of variants with more infectious variants and rushing to protect the population before a surge.   

Meanwhile, Missouri’s seven-day positivity rate rose to 10.5 percent, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS).

That is the highest figure seen since January 18, but not as high as the record 23.1 percent set in November, state data show.

The surge is mostly due to the southwest corner of the state, where Springfield and Branson – a city famous for its live entertainment – are located. 

In Missouri, 44.9 percent of the total population is vaccinated, which is lower than the national rate of 47.5 percent, according to the CDC.

In Greene County, where Springfield is located, only 33.8 percent of residents are fully vaccinated and the case rate is 51 per 100,000 people, state data reveal. 


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