Missouri’s top health officials agree that local leaders and community representatives must be the primary influencers in the state’s efforts to reduce rising COVID-19 cases and increasing vaccination rates.
According to the Kansas City Health Department (KCHD), the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout Missouri. Missouri has the lowest vaccination rates in the country and the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000, which concerns local leaders and health officials.
During a virtual news conference July 9, Robert Knodell, acting director of the Missouri Departments of Health and Senior Services, said federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials agree that people from out of state cannot “parachute” into the state to convince people to get the vaccine.
“We’ve had various conversations about who effective local messengers are in rural communities as well as in our inner cities,” Knodell said. “The federal government is more than willing to engage with us in those conversations with trusted local messengers and provide us with messaging materials and efforts that have been successful elsewhere.”
Adam Crumbliss, the Director of Division of Community and Public Health, said the most effective way to stop the virus and its variant is vaccination.
“We need to encourage Missourians to listen to their local public health leaders,” Crumbliss said. “It’s important to remind Missourians and Americans that we are continuing to move forward but we are certainly not [done with] COVID.”
Crumbliss continued to emphasize that now is the time for vigilance and continued persuasion at the local level in regards to vaccinations and education of the new variant.
KCHD reported 212 new positive cases of COVID-19 and one death during the week of July 3, up from 185 the week before.