Here’s what we know about COVID-19 surge in Missouri: St. Louis crisis, masks and more

·4 min read

The coronavirus continues to surge across Missouri, due in part to the spread of the delta variants as well as loosened COVID-related restrictions and continued vaccine hesitation.

Here’s what we know about how Missouri, and the Kansas City region in particular are responding to the continued surge:

Missouri clergy urge vaccination

On Wednesday the pastors, led by Word&Way editor-in-chief Brian Kaylor, will launch an advertising campaign and issue a plea for Missouri Christians to get vaccinated, “as a way of following Jesus’s command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Missouri is second in the nation, behind Arkansas, for the most new COVID cases per capita on a weekly basis. Full vaccinations in recent days crept just above 40% of the population — far below the 75 to 80% needed to contain the virus

With individuals still hesitant to get vaccinated, endorsements from trusted figures in the community such as clergy is critical, health officials have said. In Springfield, which has been hard hit by the surge of COVID cases and the delta variant, health officials and clinics have partnered with two prominent local churches to host clinics in recent weeks.

The Missouri clergy on Wednesday plan to make a faith-based plea: for “every follower of Jesus to realize their responsibility to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8). At this moment that means increasing vaccination rates in our community.”

St. Louis area hospitals struggle

Ninety-one COVID-19 patients have been admitted to intensive care units in the St. Louis region in the past day — seven people have died.

Dr. Clay Dunagan, acting head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, attributed a spike in cases to a low vaccination rate, the delta variant, and the easing of masking and social distancing.

St. Louis County has had a 28.6% increase in cases in the past seven days compared to the previous week, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The City of St. Louis has seen a 40.8% increase in cases in the past seven days.

“We are strongly encouraging all citizens of our region to return to or continue wearing masks in public places,” he said in a video posted Tuesday. “This is not currently being mandated, but it is a personal decision that all of us can make to use one of the most effective weapons we have to mitigate the surge we’re currently experiencing.”

Get vaccinated... and a Sporting scarf

Vaccination drives will take place at Children’s Mercy Park during two home matches this month: Wednesday vs. San Jose and again on July 31. The initiative is being carried out in partnership with the KCK’s Unified Government Public Health Department.

Fans who choose to get vaccinated at this month’s two vaccine-drive games will receive a free Sporting KC scarf.

“Like any sports team, we care about our community,” Sporting KC director of fan development Blake McFarland said. “We want everyone to be safe and healthy and to get us to a spot where we can get back to doing anything we want to do. If we just need to have a vaccine clinic at the entrance of our stadiums to give people the option and make it more accessible to people, then it’s a no-brainer for us to do something like that.”

Masks are back

In response to the increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the Kansas City metro area, local health officials and hospitals issued a joint public health advisory Friday with recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated residents.

The recommendations vary based on individuals’ vaccination status.

Unvaccinated residents should wear masks in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor settings, according to the public health advisory. They should avoid indoor spaces without fresh air from the outdoors.

The advisory recommends that vaccinated individuals still be cautious. If they don’t know the vaccination status of people around them, they should practice social distancing, according to the recommendations.

Why not a mask mandate?

The advisory was issued to provide clear guidance on how people should protect themselves and people around them. They stopped shy of another mask mandate because at this time there’s not much appetite for further restrictions.

“Mask mandates are unpopular,” Frank Thompson, deputy director of the Kansas City Health Department said. “The motivation to wear a mask needs to come from somewhere else other than a mandate.”

Not to mention, a new Missouri law curbing the power of local health departments during pandemics for the most part also leaves it up to local elected officials to decide when to issue a mask mandate.

However, the health advisory came a day after the Kansas City Council approved a resolution requiring the health department to be more aggressive in addressing the Delta variant.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting