As New York greets health workers, Missouri battles wave | New York News
By HEATHER HOLLINSWORTH and DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press
New York on Wednesday held a ticker parade for healthcare workers and others who helped the city get through the darkest days of COVID-19, while authorities in Missouri struggled to push back a wave attributed to the rapidly spreading delta variant and deep resistance to being vaccinated.
The split-screen images could provide a glimpse of what public health experts might expect for the United States in the coming months: continued progress against the coronavirus in general, but with local outbreaks in corners of the country with low vaccination rates.
“We have a lot to appreciate as we are well advanced in our recovery. We have a lot to celebrate, ”said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who rode a parade float with hospital workers along the Canyon of Heroes, the skyscraper-lined stretch of Broadway. where astronauts, returning soldiers and championship sports teams are celebrated.
In Missouri, meanwhile, the Springfield area was hit so hard that a hospital had to borrow ventilators over the July 4 weekend and begged on social media for help from respiratory therapists. Members of a newly formed federal “emergency response team” have started arriving to help suppress the outbreak.
Missouri not only leads the country in new cases relative to population, but it also averages 1,000 new cases per day – about the same number as the entire Northeast, including major centers. population of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
California, with 40 million people, only has slightly higher case numbers than Missouri, which has 6 million people.
Northeastern states have seen cases, deaths and hospitalizations drop to next to nothing amid widespread acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine. Vermont spent 26 days with new single-digit case numbers. In Maryland, the governor’s office said every death recorded in June involved an unvaccinated person. New York City regularly spends entire days without fatalities.
The problem, as health experts see it: Only 45% of Missouri residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 55% of the US population. Some rural counties near Springfield have vaccination rates among teens and 20-year-olds.
At the same time, the delta variant is quickly becoming the predominant strain in the state. Tests on wastewater show that it spreads from rural areas to more populated places.
Erik Frederick, executive director of Mercy Hospital Springfield, said staff members were frustrated that “it was preventable this time.”
At the city’s other hospital, Cox South, several patients are between 20 and 30 years old, said Ashley Kimberling Casad, vice president of clinical services. She said she had hope when she looked at the COVID-19 numbers in May as she prepared to return from maternity leave.
“I was really thinking on my return from maternity leave that, not that COVID would be gone, but that it would be so manageable. Then all of a sudden it started to increase, ”she said, adding that almost all of the virus samples the hospital sends for testing turns out to be the delta variant.
Missouri has also never had a statewide mask mandate. Sentiment against government intervention is so strong that Brian Steele, mayor of the Springfield suburb of Nixa, faces a recall vote after imposing a mask rule, even though it has long expired.
The contrasting scenes in the United States came as the worldwide death toll from COVID-19 approached 4 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
Nationwide COVID-19 deaths have fallen to around 200 per day, from a peak of more than 3,400 per day in January.
Meanwhile, 17 people have died in the last two-week benchmark period in the county surrounding Springfield, the highest number since January. None have been vaccinated, officials said.
Back in New York, which was the deadly epicenter of the epidemic in the spring of 2002, the mood was much different on Wednesday. Those honored at the parade included nurses and doctors, emergency crews, bus drivers and train operators, teachers and childcare providers, and utility workers.
“What a difference a year makes,” said Parade Marshal Sandra Lindsay, a nurse who was the first person in the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Fifteen months ago we were in a very different place, but thanks to the heroic efforts of so many – the healthcare workers, the first responders, the frontline workers, the people who fed us, the people who put their lives in danger. , we cannot thank them enough. “
The mayor hailed them as “some of the people who made history in New York City’s toughest hours.”
Justin Davis, a nurse who came from Pittsburgh to work at a New York hospital during the height of the crisis last year, was thrilled to take part in the parade on a float sponsored by the healthcare personnel company he works for.
“I think it’s going to be really cool,” Davis said. “And I hope that can just bring closure.”
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