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In Missouri, COVID-19 cases are surging and hospitalized patients are younger than ever

With the highly-contagious Delta variant spreading across the country, the number of new coronavirus cases is surging in 45 states, with just Maine, South Dakota, and Iowa reporting decreases in new cases over the past week versus the previous week. In Delaware and Arkansas, the rates of new cases are remaining steady.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that in 34 states, the number of new cases in the past week compared to the previous week are at least 50 percent higher. Doctors say that the vast majority of the new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are among people who have not received COVID-19 vaccines.

Missouri has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with about 45 percent of residents receiving at least one dose, and the state is dealing with one of the worst outbreaks of the Delta variant. The seven-day average of new cases is close to 1,400 per day, up 150 percent from last month. To try to help combat the spread of the virus, a surge team comprised of members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Federal Emergency Management Agency has been sent to the state.

Dr. Howard Jarvis is an emergency physician in Springfield, and told CNN that if a patient is "sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, they are unvaccinated. That is the absolute common denominator amongst those patients." Before COVID-19 vaccines were available, Jarvis said doctors were seeing "a much older patient population in the emergency department and getting admitted to the hospital. In recent weeks, we've been seeing a much younger population. We're seeing a lot of people in their 30s, 40s, early 50s. We're seeing some teenagers and some pediatric patients as well."

In St. Louis County, officials said the rate of new cases increased by 63 percent over the last two weeks, with County Executive Sam Page warning that "a tidal wave is coming towards our unvaccinated populations. The variant is spreading quickly, and this variant has the ability to devastate those in its wake. And that is why it is so critical to get vaccinated now."