As the delta variant spreads rapidly in Missouri and cases of COVID-19 surge, some hospitals in the state are already strained. And projections suggest things will only get worse in the coming weeks.
Cases have increased 45 percent statewide in the past two weeks, with hospitalizations rising 24 percent, according to data tracking by The New York Times. Numerous counties across the state have high per-capita infection rates, some as high as one in seven residents infected. But many of the counties with the highest daily new cases are clustered in Missouri’s southwest corner.
Taney County, home to the popular tourist town of Branson in southwest Missouri, has seen daily cases increase 50 percent in the last two weeks, with hospitalizations increasing 62 percent. Taney has an average of 52 daily new cases per 100,000 residents, the third-highest daily case rate in the state. North of Taney in the southwestern corner is Dallas County, which has the second-highest average of daily new cases, at 63 per 100,000. Cases there have increased 74 percent in the last two weeks while hospitalizations increased 44 percent.