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ST. LOUIS — Missouri health officials have issued a “Hotspot Advisory” for three south-central Missouri counties, citing a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The three counties are Laclede, Pulaski and Phelps.

Ft. Leonard Wood is in Pulaski; Rolla’s Missouri University of Science and Technology is in Phelps. 

According to the advisory from the Department of Health and Senior Services, cases in Laclede, Phelps, and Pulaski counties are elevated with 217, 294, and 210 respectively in the past 14 days. Disease spread from southwestern Missouri to the east following Interstate 44 is expected.

The rising cases generally reflect low vaccination rates and the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, health officials say.

The percentage of people who have completed vaccination in Laclede (24.3%), Phelps (31.3%), and Pulaski (32.5%) counties are below the state rate of 40.2%.

According to the DHSS, at least 70% to 80% of people, depending on the type of variant virus, need immunity to provide the best chance of minimizing spread within a community.

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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