What is causing the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases in Missouri?

Coronavirus

A rendering of coronavirus via the CDC.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The COVID-19 pandemic has been a part of our lives since the beginning of last year. The virus was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding COVID-19.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Since then, the way society operates has changed dramatically. Not just in the United States but around the world.

Lockdowns happened around the world, businesses shut down, seeing someone wearing a mask is now normal, and even the simple gesture of a handshake has become obsolete.

Currently, American citizens can now choose between three COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Moderna
  • Pfizer
  • Janssen

In the early months of 2021, Greene County was seeing a decrease in COVID-19. This is no longer the case.

On June 8, 2021, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department held a briefing to discuss the rise in COVID-19 cases and the importance of vaccinating everyone 12 years old and older.

However, COVID-19 cases are not just spreading through Greene County and surrounding areas. The entire state of Missouri is experiencing a major increase in cases.

New COVID-19 cases leaped in Missouri last week with 4,378 cases reported. According to Johns Hopkins University, this means the state has seen a 93.8% increase. The Greene-County Health Department said Greene County’s seven-day average of reported COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, June 15 is 73.71. On May 14 the average of reported COVID-19 cases was just 18.71.

One of the reasons for this increase is the fact many have been attending events such as graduation ceremonies.

According to the Springfield- Greene County Health Department, most of the exposure is happening in households.

Another reason is that a large percentage of residents in Greene County are still not vaccinated. As of June, there are around 62% of people in Greene County who are not vaccinated.
In May 2021 97.6% of COVID-19 cases were among those not fully vaccinated.

The Health Department is also seeing a shift in the demographics of those getting severely sick from the virus.

Dr. Robin Trotman with CoxHealth said patients being admitted with COVID-19 are becoming younger and younger.


Our community really has to know that the demographic is shifting and while I used to tell people, ‘You’re young and healthy and seemingly not going to suffer severe illness,’ I can’t say that anymore and I can’t predict who’s going to become critically ill.
The reason for this sudden shift is unclear to doctors. However, the virus may be evolving.
This virus wants people, it wants to replicate in people, and it needs a host to replicate. If you are vaccinated the virus can’t replicate. So, if you vaccinate all the older people and all that is left is younger people the virus evolves over time.

Dr. Robin Trotman, Infectious Disease Specialist at CoxHealth

New COVID-19 variants could also be a reason for the uptick in cases. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department says the Alpha and Delta variant has already been confirmed in Greene County.

“I have worked with viruses for over 25 years, in a lab doing basic science research,” said Dr. Trotman. “This is exactly what microbiology does, it evolves over time.”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday that a coronavirus strain known as the Delta variant is likely to become the dominant source of new infections in the United States and that unvaccinated will be the most at risk.

The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first discovered in India and is one of the three related variants. This variant has become infamous for its ability to outpace and replicate quicker than the other variants.

Alpha has also been confirmed by the Health Department and this variant was discovered in the United Kingdom and quickly emerged in numerous countries around the world.

Since the pandemic began, a total of 612,956 people in Missouri have tested positive for COVID-19 and 9,615 people have died from the disease according to Johns Hopkins University. In the United States, 33,461,982 people have tested positive and 599,769 people have died.

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