The Delta Variant Thrives in a State of Political and Public Health Discord

THIS IDIOT GOT LESS THAN 1% OF VOTES FOR PRESIDENT DURING THE LAST CPAC MEETING…PapaMike

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican eyeing higher national office, has appeared on Fox News likening a vaccine misinformation initiative from President Joe Biden to a “surveillance state” that is “out of Beijing.”

ST. LOUIS — The day after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson finished his bicentennial bus tour to drum up tourism to the state in mid-July, Chicago issued a travel advisorywarning about visiting Missouri.

Earlier this summer, as covid-19 case counts began to tick up when the highly transmissible delta variant took hold in the state, the Republican-majority legislature successfully enacted laws limiting public health powers and absolving businesses from covid legal exposure.

The state health officer post has sat vacant since Dr. Randall Williams resigned suddenly in late April — leaving Missouri without a permanent leader as the covid numbers grew. And Brian Steele, a mayor in the Springfield area, which is at the epicenter of swelling cases, faces a recall vote for his masking mandate that ended in April.

Hospitals in southwestern Missouri are overflowing. As of July 19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show Missouri is worst in the nation for covid case rates over the past week, and in the bottom 15 states for vaccinations against the potentially deadly virus. Though cases are not even half of what they were during the winter spike, they continue to rise rapidly, sending a warning to other states with low vaccination rates about the havoc the coronavirus’s delta variant can bring.

Divisions abound in Missouri, where vaccines are widely available but only 40% of the state has been vaccinated. Public health mitigation measures to reel in the rising case counts would be wildly unpopular in a state that never had a statewide mask mandate. And the more the virus circulates, the higher the chance it could mutate further into something more transmissible or deadly, even for those already vaccinated.

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