Missouri has the highest rate for new COVID-19 cases of any state in the country

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Missouri has the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections in the country, according to a New York Times analysis.

Over the past 14 days, most states have seen the number of cases decline, but Missouri had a 72% increase.

There are several counties that are experiencing a rise in cases, said Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Missouri counties account for 13 of the top 25 counties in the U.S. with the highest rate of new cases, The Times reported. Most were in rural areas although Joplin was included in that list.

Cox said the department is encouraging vaccination and tracking COVID-19 variants.

About 44% of the state’s population has initiated vaccination. Across the U.S., 53% of the population has had at least one dose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Cox said Missourians are skeptical of the vaccine.

“We are working in more targeted efforts engaging businesses/employers, schools and churches to provide vaccination opportunities in their communities. We are also engaged in a targeted and aggressive state public education effort encouraging those Missourians not yet vaccinated to do so,” she said in an email Monday. “Continued engagement and effort about the efficacy and impact is what we are focused on for saving lives.”

The department is also monitoring variants that are circulating in the state. Last week, health officials said Missouri was experiencing a rise in the number of Delta variant cases, which was described as “highly transmissible.”

Missouri has recorded a total of 519,267 COVID-19 cases including 9,230 deaths since the pandemic began.

Kansas ranked 23rd in The Times’ analysis, which is based on the most cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days.

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