COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri's rate of positive coronavirus tests continues to go up and local health department officials are warning about delays in contact tracing.
Meanwhile, nearly a third of new cases in Missouri are being attributed to the more contagious delta variant.
Missouri's positivity rate reached 8.1% on Tuesday, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services, an increase of 1.4% over the past week.
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services said on social media Tuesday that it is working to trace contacts of 150 people with active infections. The department is encouraging people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to reach out to anyone they were in contact with the previous two days. Active new cases have increased by 44 since last Friday.
About 29% of news cases in Missouri are the delta variant, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts warn the variant, which helped fuel a major surge in India, is more contagious than other widespread variants.
One for All Missouri, a statewide public health campaign, released a statement encouraging people to get vaccinated to prevent further spread of the delta variant.
"Vaccination is the most effective and long-lasting tool for protection from COVID-19 variants," the coalition of public health groups said in the statement.
Dr. Robin Blount with Boone Health said there has been at least one confirmed case of the delta variant in Boone County. Positive COVID samples are sent from local hospitals to the CDC to be DNA tested for different strands of the disease. The data is sent back to the hospitals, but the DNA testing is anonymous.
"If you aren't vaccinated, you truly have over 100 times more risk--no, actually it's 1000 times more risk of dying from the disease," Blount said.
Local health officials echoed the sentiment from One for All Missouri. Sara Humm, the public information specialist for Columbia/Boone Public Health and Human Services, said they are offering several free walk-up clinics next week. On July 8, vaccines will be available at the Columbia Public Library and Stephens Lake Park.
"We have held these smaller community based clinics every week for the past several months," Humm said. "We'll continue to do that as a way to make sure that vaccine is assessable for folks, and making sure that people have access to it in a place where they can easily get to."