The White House is readying COVID-19 “surge teams” to send to communities with low vaccination rates to help combat the rapidly spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus, officials announced Thursday. The teams will work with local public health authorities to conduct contact tracing and will distribute supplies as needed or requested by states, such as therapeutics and additional tests. The teams will also help augment staffing at local vaccination sites.
The Biden administration plans to deploy “surge response” teams to some states, including Missouri, in response to rising COVID-19 cases across various parts of the country.
Nevada and Missouri have had the highest rates of COVID-19 infection in recent weeks, and there have been recent outbreaks in Utah, Nebraska, and Wyoming, as well.
According to the Kansas City Star and multiple media reports, Missouri has requested aid from the White House, which announced the newly-formed federal “surge response” teams on Thursday.
Teams will be deployed to several states where the COVID-19 Delta variant presents risks to unvaccinated Americans. In a recent report, the CDC says the highest proportion of Delta variant was detected in southwest Missouri, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of all Delta variants identified in the state.
The teams are designed to “surge additional testing into communities to expand detection of the virus and allow public health authorities to do contact tracing to help contain outbreaks,” according to an announcement from the White House.
State data shows that 44.6% of residents have received at least one shot, far short of the 54.7% rate nationally. In more than 60 Missouri counties, less than 30% of the population had received their first shot, according to state data.
Arkansas has less than 35% of residents fully vaccinated as of Sunday, and the state averaged 16 new cases per 100,000 residents every day over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins. That’s about five times the nationwide rate of new cases.
The surge teams will work with public health department officials to conduct contact tracing. They will also distribute supplies such as therapeutics or COVID-19 tests and bolster staffing levels at vaccination sites