Federal response teams are being formed beginning next week to help Missouri get a hold of its increasing coronavirus cases. A Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) press release says the teams will be made up of health and logistics experts from federal agencies to conduct testing, distribute medicines designed to fight the virus, and boost local and state efforts to increase vaccinations.

“Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, DHSS has collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local partners to address COVID-19. The CDC and their associated Foundation offered to recruit and hire surge teams of public health professionals to assist throughout Missouri in mitigation efforts during this time of increased viral activity. DHSS has accepted this assistance, and formation of the teams will begin next week,” the press release says.

Members of the surge teams will include an epidemiologist, research assistants, a health communication specialist, contact tracers and others who will support immunization and outreach efforts.

DHSS says specific details of the partnership are still being decided.

As the collaboration gets underway, so does a holiday weekend. A spike in COVID-19 cases usually happen after people get together with family and friends for holiday events.

The state reminds Missourians that freedom from the coronavirus is achieved through vaccination.

The Delta variant, deemed highly contagious, is projected to become dominant worldwide and in Missouri.

“As you gather with friends and family for Independence Day, please take adequate precautions to reduce the risk of this highly transmissible variant,” says DHSS Acting Director, Robert Knodell. “COVID-19 is now preventable due to proven success seen with the vaccines. Vaccination is our best chance at moving past the pandemic.”

The primary target for the Delta variant and other variants is unvaccinated individuals. Recent data from the United Kingdom have shown the COVID-19 vaccines were shown to be nearly 90% effective against symptomatic disease and 96% effective against hospitalization.

“The Delta variant is also impacting young people in a way that previous variants have not,” says Knodell. “It is wrong to think that only the elderly and those with compromised immune systems need the vaccination. The virus has changed since the early days of the pandemic.”

Today, Missouri reports more than 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 and the rate of positive cases has climbed to 9.2%. The state also reports 945 people in a Missouri hospital being treated for the virus as the holiday nears.

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