SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Ozarks continues to capture the nation’s attention as the COVID-19 crisis deepens. Springfield Mayor Ken McClure took to the airwaves on CBS’s “Face the Nation” to talk about to recent surge of COVID-19 cases.

According to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, over the past week, 1,505 Greene County residents have tested positive for COVID-19. The seven-day rolling average for new cases is 215 — a 26% increase over the past week and the highest average since January 11. Hospitals have become so overrun that some patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have been transferred to St. Louis and Kansas City.

The prime suspect for this surge in cases is the Delta variant, but McClure says there are other factors to consider.

“I think there are several reasons,” said McClure. “First, Springfield is a hub. We are an attraction for tourism. We are an attraction for transportation, for business, for high education, and certainly healthcare. So, people come to Springfield to shop, to do business. So, people will come here and I think that has greatly increased our exposure.”

Recently, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has been working on door-to-door campaigns in an effort to slow down the surge and to improve vaccination numbers.

“Public health has been using the door-to-door philosophy for years. It has been a tried and true practice,” said McClure. “Our Springfield-Greene County Health Department has been using it for a long time. But the key is that these are trusted, community people. We called up community advocates. It’s down to members the community members will trust in spreading information that is factual and trustworthy.”

The Health Department has also started working with more agencies and churches to get the word out about vaccinations. Many churches have recently held large vaccine clinics, and McClure says the city has seen the largest increase in vaccinations in several weeks.