The number of COVID-19 patients in Joplin-area hospitals has risen above 100, according to data from the city of Joplin.
According to its COVID-19 dashboard, the city on Tuesday reported hospital occupancy of 103 patients, 23 of whom are Joplin residents.
Mercy Hospital Joplin reported 62 patients Tuesday at its clinics in Joplin and Carthage, 18 of whom are in intensive care and 15 of whom are on ventilators.
Freeman Health System reported 47 patients in its Joplin and Neosho hospitals, with 15 in intensive care, 27 in a medical COVID-19 unit, and two in other hospital rooms, with one patient on a ventilator.
The increase comes at the same time as case numbers across the nation have risen.
Confirmed infections climbed to an average of about 23,600 a day on Monday, up from 11,300 on June 23, according to Johns Hopkins University data. And all but two states — Maine and South Dakota — reported that case numbers have gone up over the past two weeks.
At the same time, parts of the country are running up against deep vaccine resistance, while the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, first detected in India, is accounting for an ever-larger share of infections.
Nationally, 55.6% of all Americans have received at least one COVID-19 shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The five states with the biggest two-week jump in cases per capita all had lower vaccination rates: Missouri, 45.9%; Arkansas, 43%; Nevada, 50.9%; Louisiana, 39.2%; and Utah, 49.5%.
Both of Joplin's largest hospitals report low vaccination rates among those patients — two of Freeman's patients have been fully vaccinated, while Mercy reported two fully and two partially vaccinated patients. Mercy reported that all four of those patients also have comorbidities.
The low rates show that the vaccinations are working as the delta variant of the disease spreads. Officials with Freeman and Mercy, as well as other city, county and state officials, have urged residents to get vaccinated.
Last week, Freeman hosted a news conference featuring pediatricians who urged parents to have children 12 and older vaccinated. On Wednesday, the hospital will host a similar session with a cardiologist who will address the possible effects COVID-19 has on the heart, including myocarditis.
Yet vaccination rates among Missourians remain low. On Tuesday the state of Missouri posted that 39.8% of people have been fully vaccinated, below the national average of 48.1%, according to the CDC.
Joplin's vaccination rate is at 42.8%, while Jasper County is at 21.5% and Newton County is at 18.4%.
Even with the latest surge, cases in the U.S. are nowhere near their peak of a quarter-million per day in January. And deaths are running at under 260 per day on average after topping out at more than 3,400 over the winter — a testament to how effectively the vaccine can prevent serious illness and death in those who happen to become infected.
The Joplin Health Department also reported Tuesday that a 64-year-old woman died of the disease. Her death brought the city's count to 138 since the start of the pandemic. Jasper County also reported three more deaths, bringing the county's total to 169.