Surge of Covid cases directly linked to lower vaccination rates, Missouri official says

Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, on July 10, 2021.
Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, on July 10, 2021. CNN

A hospital in Missouri is seeing Covid-19 cases at “a pace that is almost unbelievable,” with over 90% of ICU patients on ventilators, according to Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.

“We started off today with 133 Covid-positive patients in our hospital. … I would say, locally, in our facility, in our health care system in southwest Missouri, we are absolutely stretched, further than we were stretched last year. And I would say it’s a managed crisis at this point for sure. We’re seeing things that we didn’t see last year at a pace that is almost unbelievable, when you look at how quickly this accelerated,” Frederick told CNN.

“From June 1, we had 26 patients in-house. We hit 128 yesterday. And as I said, 133 today. So in 39 days, we made that acceleration. Last year, it took us from Sept. 1 to our peak on Dec. 28 to go from 24 to 113. So 150 days,” Frederick added.

Frederick said “it’s impossible not to” link the surge in cases to lower vaccination rates in the area. Southern Missouri is part of five undervaccinated clusters that are vulnerable to surges in Covid-19 cases as the Delta variant spreads in the US.

Frederick said the local vaccination rate is around 38%, but some rural vaccination numbers hover in the teens.

He said health workers needed to “rally our resources,” including ventilators, to address the spike in cases and patients.

“We used up the bedside ventilators but had more on hand if needed. We were fine from an equipment standpoint, but we were definitely tested,” he said.

The US government is deploying a Covid-19 surge team to provide public health support in southwest Missouri.

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