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Some Missouri residents spurn restrictions as Delta variant spreads

▶ Watch Video: The Delta variant is a looming threat in parts of the Midwest like Missouri

Missouri state officials warn the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant in parts of the Midwest could happen in other parts of the country. Some areas are recommending masks and other COVID-19 restrictions to fight the spread.

As the pandemic hit Nixa, Missouri, Mayor Brian Steele tried to curb COVID-19 from spreading last year, including helping impose a mask mandate.

“We’ve had a lot of cases and hospitalizations and a few deaths in our community, so it’s been a hard year,” Steele told CBS News’ Nancy Chen.

But his efforts have been met with pushback from residents. Steele is facing a possible recall election this fall after dozens of constituents signed a petition seeking to remove him from office for implementing COVID public safety measures.

“What’s behind the outrage by some of these people and some of your constituents to wearing masks?” Chen asked.

“Sometimes they say it’s because it damages the economy, sometimes they say it was because it wasn’t done properly. Both of those things aren’t true,” Steele replied.

The virus is still a looming threat in Christian County, where Nixa is located. Vaccination levels are more than half the national average as COVID cases are spiking.

Emergency care centers near Nixa, like Mercy Hospital Springfield, are also stretched thin.

The hospital’s health system announced Wednesday it would require staff to be fully vaccinated by the end of September or face possible termination. Local officials are warning surges in their state could be dangerous for everyone.

“The people that are admitted to our hospital now, 97% of them are not vaccinated. The real concern is that if we’re seeing this high number of Delta variants here in southwest Missouri, why wouldn’t we see it in other parts of the state or other parts of the nation?” Dr. William Sistrunk said.

Health officials in Springfield told the Kansas City Star that the spike in cases started around graduation season and Memorial Day weekend as people started to gather more.



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