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The summer surge of infection tied to the easily spread delta variant of COVID-19 is accelerating in Missouri, with state health officials Wednesday reporting the highest case total since mid-January.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 2,995 additional cases, with at least one case in 105 of the state's 117 local health jurisdictions. The seven-day average of reported cases rose to 2,144 per day, up one-third in seven days and more than triple the average of June 21.

Missouri last reported more than 3,000 additional cases Jan. 15. The seven-day average is the highest since Jan. 27, when cases were falling steadily from their peak in November.

So far this month, the state health department has reported 33,656 additional cases, 75 percent more than the full month of June. In November, the state recorded more than 126,000 cases.

The hardest-hit areas of the state continue to be in southwest Missouri. Of the 18 local health departments with month-to-date infection rates for reported cases exceeding 1,000 per 100,000 residents, 17 are in the region that runs from Jefferson City to Joplin.

Hospitals in Springfield continue to struggle with surging inpatient numbers.

On Tuesday, Mercy Hospital in Springfield was treating 146 COVID-19 positive patients, 35 percent of all inpatients, Chief Administrative Officer Erik Frederick tweeted.

"The higher the COVID census the more strain on non-COVID resources," Frederick wrote. "It's not just about COVID. It's about the whole system."

CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards tweeted Tuesday his hospitals are treating 147 COVID-19 positive patients, "well beyond our capacity three weeks ago."

The Missouri Independent is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization covering state government and its impact on Missourians.

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