COVID-19 in Mid Missouri
Over the weekend, Springfield MO hospitals exceeded their capacity to care for patients and began transferring some of their patients to University Hospital in Columbia. As of this writing (7/19/21) University Hospital itself filled to capacity and is no longer able to accept any additional patients from other hospitals.
COVID-19 Rapidly Increasing in Gasconade County
New diagnoses of confirmed COVID-19 in Gasconade County jumped up sharply last week, with 25 new lab confirmed cases (19 by PCR and 6 by rapid antigen testing). Based on statewide genomic data I shared last week, this increase in cases in our county is almost certainly related to the Delta strain of COVID. Recent reports suggest the Delta strain is over 200% more contagious than the original strain of COVID. One possible reason for this was noted in a published study last week. That study found people infected with the Delta variant had on average about 1,000 times more copies of the virus in their respiratory tracts than those infected with the original strain of COVID. That study also showed that after someone catches the Delta variant, the person likely becomes infectious sooner. On average, it took only about four days for the Delta variant to reach detectable levels inside a person, compared with six days for the original COVID variant.
The Gasconade County PCR-Only Positive Rate jumped to 20% (the highest rate of positivity Gasconade County has recorded). This suggests far too few people are being tested. I strongly encourage anyone (regardless of vaccination status) to be tested if you are having COVID symptoms. In addition, if you have been exposed to someone with COVID and are unvaccinated, you should consider testing while under quarantine, so that individuals who were around you can know to quarantine. While the CDC does not currently recommend vaccinated individuals quarantine or be tested after exposure while asymptomatic, some experts are recommending testing in this situation. Given our current increase in cases, I currently encourage anyone to consider testing after exposure to someone with confirmed COVID.
Moderna and J&J vaccines are authorized for people 18 and over, while the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people 12 and over. The CDC reports 121 more residents of Gasconade county became fully vaccinated last week, bringing us to 38% that are vaccinated (that is ~5500 vaccinated and 9200 unvaccinated). Studies continue to show that current FDA authorized vaccines are highly effective against the Delta and other COVID variants, but it takes over 5 weeks for full immunity to develop after the first shot. PLEASE sign up for a vaccine as soon as possible.
Michael Rothermich, MD
Chief of Staff