A hospital in southwestern Missouri is opening a sixth COVID-19 unit after having needed only five last year, underscoring the impact of the disease’s delta variant and the consequences of low vaccine uptake in one of the hardest-hit parts of the country.
Mercy Hospital in Springfield is treating 133 coronavirus patients, up from 116 a week ago, and it recently acquired ventilators from St. Louis and Arkansas after it ran out of its own, according to the Kansas City Star.
“Many local rural communities don’t have high vaccination rates. They also don’t have a hospital. Get sick, come to Springfield. I think that’s getting left out of the narrative,” tweeted Erik Frederick, the hospital’s chief administrative officer.
He also used his account to highlight a series of local vaccination clinics in the area.
Missouri right now has the second-highest cases as a share of its population — after Arkansas — and the second-highest rate of hospitalizations per capita after Nevada, according to a New York Times tracker.
The area near Springfield is considered a major hotspot for the delta strain that is ripping through countries and finding unvaccinated persons.
Only four in 10 people in Missouri are fully vaccinated. That’s a better rate than nearly a dozen states but worse than the national level of 48% and far behind a handful of New England states, which have vaccinated 60% of their populations.