New York held a ticker-tape parade Wednesday for health workers and others who helped the city get through the darker days of COVID-19 as Missouri authorities struggled to beat an accused source of the variant. delta to rapid spread and deep resistance to vaccination.
Split-screen imagery could be a glimpse of what public health experts say for the United States even as the economy reopens and life returns to something close to the norm: outbreaks in the corners of the U.S. country with low vaccination rates.
“We’ve got a lot to appreciate, because we’re well advanced in our recovery,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who rode on a parade with hospital employees across the Canyon of Heroes, the strip of the Broadway skyscraper where astronauts, returning soldiers and championship teams are selected.
Meanwhile in Missouri, the Springfield area was hit so hard that a hospital had to take out ventilator loans over the weekend of July 4th and begged on social media for help from respiratory therapists, many of whom which have been volunteered by other states. Members of a new federal “emergency response team” have also begun reaching out to help suppress the fire.
Missouri is not only leading the nation in new cases compared to population, it is also averaging 1,000 cases per day – about the same number as the entire Northeast, including major cities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
California, with 40 million people, has slightly higher home numbers than Missouri, which has a population of 6 million.
The Northeastern States have seen cases, deaths, and hospitalizations plummet amid widespread acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vermont has gone 26 days with nine home numbers in a single digit. In Maryland, the governor’s office said every death recorded in June was in an unvaccinated person. New York City, which was the epicenter of the lethal U.S. firefight in the spring of 2020, when the death toll peaked at more than 800 a day, regularly spends entire days with no reported deaths.
The problem in Missouri, as health experts see it: Just 45% of state residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 55% of the U.S. population. Some rural counties near Springfield have vaccination rates in adolescents and under 20 years of age.
At the same time, the delta variant is rapidly becoming the predominant strain in the state. Tests of used water show that it spreads from rural areas to more populated areas.
Mercy Hospital Springfield reported Tuesday that it had more than 120 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 – the highest total since the pandemic began. Seventeen people have died in the last two-week reporting period in the county surrounding Springfield, the most since January. No one was vaccinated, authorities said.
Erik Frederick, Mercy’s chief executive, said staff members are frustrated knowing that “this is preventable this time around” because of the vaccine.
“We try to convince people, but it’s almost like speaking a different language,” he lamented. “There’s no way they can get a vaccine. Their personal freedom is more important.”
The Mercy system announced Wednesday that it requires vaccinations among hospital staff in Springfield, as well as at its 29 other hospitals and 900 or so clinics in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. He said about 75% of its more than 40,000 employees are vaccinated.
Missouri has never had a masquerade warrant across the state. The sentiment against government intervention is so strong that Brian Steele, mayor of the outskirts of Springfield in Nixa, is making a recall vote after imposing a mask rule, even though it has expired so long ago.
At the other Springfield hospital, Cox South, many patients range in age from 20 to 30, said Ashley Kimberling Casad, vice president of clinical services. She said she was hopeful when she saw the COVID-19 numbers in May as she prepared to return from maternity leave.
“I really thought when I came back from maternity leave that, not that COVID was gone, but that it was just so manageable. Suddenly, it started to spike,” she said, adding that almost all virus samples that l hospital sends to examine if they turn out to be the delta variant.
Citing the growth of homes, the Springfield school district has resumed its mask requirement for its summer program starting Wednesday.
Contrasting scenes in the United States are coming when the number of deaths worldwide from COVID-19 is close to 4 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University count. COVID-19 deaths across the country have dropped to about 200 per day from a peak of more than 3,400 per day in January.
In New York, those honored at the parade included nurses and doctors, emergency crews, bus drivers and train operators, teachers and utility operators. The crowds along the way were meager, in part because many companies still operate at a distance.
“What a difference it makes a year,” said grand parade marshal Sandra Lindsay, a nurse who was the first person in the country to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Fifteen months ago, we were in a very different place, but thanks to the heroic efforts of so many – health workers, first responders, front-line workers, the people who fed us, the people who put their lives online, we can’t thank them enough. “