Friday, July 9, 2021

Missouri's GOP governor keeps his head stuck in the sand, discouraging federal help with low vaccination rates, as COVID crisis looms at overloaded hospitals


COVID clusters that threaten health across U.S.

Missouri leads the nation in new COVID-19 cases, thanks largely to low vaccination rates and the emerging Delta variant. The state also is among five undervaccinated COVID clusters -- all in the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest -- that could give rise to a new surge to threaten the health of the entire nation, according to an analysis by Georgetown University researchers. But Missouri's Republican governor is pushing back against federal efforts to enhance  vaccination rates. Is Gov. Mike Parson practicing a form of "stupidity on steroids," placing GOP "principles" over matters of life and death?

That seems to be a reasonable question to ask, given that Parson appears to be out of touch with reality, even denying his state's hospitals are overloaded due to COVID and in a state of crisis -- contrary to the words of those who lead those facilities. From a report at in Springfield, MO, where we live:

The Ozarks surge in new COVID-19 cases and low vaccination rates continue to draw national attention.

On Thursday public information officers at Cox, Mercy and the Springfield-Greene Co. Health Department confirmed that they are being inundated with media requests from both national and state outlets and a study by Georgetown University led to this headline all across the country:

“Five Undervaccinated Clusters Put the Entire United States at Risk”

The story shows five circles that cover parts of eight states, all in the southern part of the U.S., including southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas. The research by Georgetown found that because of their low vaccination rates, around 30 counties in these areas are vulnerable to outbreaks that could end up as breeding grounds for another nationwide surge.

“These clusters of unvaccinated people are what is standing in the way of us putting this virus down permanently,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, in an interview with CNN.

At a national news conference on Thursday the White House COVID-19 Response Team announced that the more transmissible Delta variant is now the most prevalent strain in the country, especially in the Midwest where CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Wolensky said, “The Delta variant accounts for approximately 80 percent of cases. This rapid rise is troubling. We know that the Delta variant has increased transmissibility and is currently surging in pockets of the country with low vaccination rates.”

That would be Springfield and Greene County, where the rate is below 40 percent and the federal government is sending one of its first COVID-19 surge response teams in Missouri.

The surge response teams were announced by President Biden as a way to provide federal help to states with high rates of new cases and low vaccination rates.

Does Gov. Parson welcome such help, no matter how badly it's needed? Not exactly. From

Speaking in Kansas City, Missouri Governor Mike Parson said, “Right now there’s only one federal employee in the state doing the same thing they were doing before when we had the outbreak in southwest Missouri.”

But in a Facebook post on Wednesday night Parson sent out word that he does not want the surge team’s strategy to include going door-to-door asking people to get vaccinated.

“I have directed our health department to tell the federal government that sending employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination would NOT be an effective OR welcome strategy in Missouri.”

Parson later expanded on those remarks:

“I object to the federal government coming in and going door-to-door to anyone’s houses in Missouri,” he said. “But I want to be clear too. Regardless of whether it’s President Trump’s administration or President Biden’s, we’ve had federal authorities on the ground and we want them here to assist. But it depends on what that role is. I don’t think we need to be out there trying to scare people into taking a vaccine.”

Whatever gave Parson the notion that the feds were seeking to "compel" or "scare" Missourians into getting vaccinations? That's not clear, but Jeff Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, had this to say:

“We are working with local health officials and getting more treatments for people with COVID,” he explained. “And helping states increase vaccine confidence, answer questions and expand access to vaccinations and testing.”

Zients even responded to Parson's concerns about a door-to-door approach:

“As part of our efforts trusted messengers may go door-to-door,” he said. “Doctors, faith leaders and community leaders that people look to for this type of advice. And we’ve seen movement by going person-by-person. This is important work that is leading to more vaccinations. So for those that are feeding misinformation and trying to mischaracterize this type of trusted messenger work, I believe you are doing a disservice to the country.”

That's a polite way of saying Parson is a whack job, which appears to be true, based on this report about the challenges facing Missouri hospitals, especially in the southwest corner of the state:

The surging COVID-19 case loads are draining resources and drawing out wait times in emergency rooms across the Ozarks.

Hospitals across the Ozarks say the recent spike is having an impact on just how soon they get to patients. A spokesperson with CoxHealth told KY3 response efforts these days are consumed by very fluid situations. The hospital has had to quickly adapt, and in some cases send COVID-19 patients outside the area to get care.

In one case, a COVID-19 patient was sent to Dallas, Texas. While Mercy has not sent patients out of the area, both hospitals say emerging needs are taking a toll across the board.

“Patients are much sicker than the patients we’ve been seeing in the past,” Mercy Springfield nurse Tracy Hill said on Thursday. “That cuts down the nurse to patient ratio.”

The spreading delta variant is now why local hospitals describe the area as the “heart” of COVID-19. There are now more cases, higher illnesses, and not enough medical staff.

”Math will tell you we can’t take care of as many patients when they’re that sick,” Hill said.

Has any of that made an impact on Gov. Parson? Apparently not:

While local hospitals say Southwest Missouri is in the middle of a crisis, Gov. Mike Parson said the contrary on Thursday.

”The hospitals are not overwhelmed at this point, or bed space, we know that looking at the data everyday,” Gov. Parson said. “We’re all concerned about the spike in the Delta variant, but to try to mislead people that we’re in a crisis is totally misleading. We’re not in a crisis mode in this state.”

The governor added that the focus should be on finding a solution on getting more people to take the vaccine. A spokesperson with CoxHealth said in the area is “in the middle of a crisis.”

Doctors with Cox said the crisis is one that even goes beyond the COVID-19 ICU.

”We’re seeing all of the regular problems that would bring patients to the emergency department, all those levels are essentially back to normal,” said Dr. Howard Jarvis, Medical Director of Emergency Departments for CoxHealth. “But on top of it you’ve got a really high COVID volume.”

Those patients have taken more time and more effort,which Jarvis said has certainly increased waiting time.

”There’s still a limited number of beds, there’s a limited number of physicians, a limited number of nurses, so and quite honestly it takes quite a bit longer to see COVID patients than it does to see some other patients,” he said.

Many COVID-19 patients are now hospitalized for longer periods of time. Nurses with Mercy say a shortage of beds is not the biggest issue.

”It doesn’t matter if you have a thousand beds, if you don’t have nurses to take care of a thousand patients, and physicians for that matter, it doesn’t really matter how many beds you have,” Hill said.


Anonymous said...

You are being kind by saying Gov. Parson has his head in the sand. i'd say he has his head stuck up his ass.

legalschnauzer said...

I like your version better than mine.

Anonymous said...

Parson must be planning a run for higher office. He's clearly playing to the Trumpies.

legalschnauzer said...

U.S. Senate is the only higher office I can think of that might be a possibility, but Wikipedia reports that Parson has declined to enter. Of course, he always could change his mind.

legalschnauzer said...

In terma of name recognition, the early FOP leader proably is Parson's predecessor -- the abominably corrupt Eric Greitens -- he of the sexual escapades with a married hair stylist.

legalschnauzer said...

More about Eric Greitens from our 1/18 post:

After acknowledging the affair, Eric and Sheena Greitens were stunningly self-centered in their public statements. Consider these words from Sheena Greitens:

“We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God. I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children.”

It apparently has not occurred to Sheena Greitens that there is another family involved here -- that of Eric Greitens' mistress -- and that marriage broke up. Based on news reports, they have one or more children. So one term that could be applied to Eric Greitens is "home wrecker" -- although Mrs. Greitens only seems to be concerned with her own home.

A word of advice for Mrs. Greitens: Don't marry a man with gubernatorial and presidential ambitions and then say you want the media to stay away from you and your children. It makes you look clueless and wildly out of touch.

legalschnauzer said...

Eric Greitens trashes politicians, other than himself:

In early 2016, candidate Eric Greitens wrote an email to supporters in which he expressed an extraordinarily dark view of his opponents and Missouri's political climate. From a report by Tony Messenger, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“There is, obviously, something wrong with politics, and there is something particularly, deeply, disturbingly, wrong here in Missouri,” [Greitens] wrote in the message to backers. “I’ve never been in politics before, but even in the brief time that I’ve been running for Governor, I’ve been exposed to some of the worst people I’ve ever known. Liars, cowards, sociopaths. They are often deeply broken and disturbed people, who — like criminals who prey on the innocent — take their pleasure and make their living by victimizing honest people. They are drawn to politics as vultures flock to rotting meat — and they feed off the carcasses of vice.”

The future governor was just getting warmed up.

“The … most vicious punishment for the pathetic people who lower themselves like slime to slander, is that they have to live with themselves. They can hire people to praise them, slip cash to people who will tell ’em — like drug dealers pushing dope on kids — it’s ok, everybody does it. They can spend money to have other people tell them comforting lies. But I believe that, deep down, they know the truth about themselves, and they see it staring back at them in the rotted, bloated, self-serving soul in the mirror. ”

Greitens called them vultures. Liars. Sociopaths. Drug dealers. Criminals. Snakes. All in one email.

“They are corrupt in ways that I didn’t know people could be corrupt,” he wrote of those in his way.

Wow, that truly is a message of "hope." And we now know that had Greitens bothered to look in a mirror, he would have seen a snake smiling back at him.

legalschnauzer said...

BTW, Eric and Sheena Greitens now are divorced. From NPR:

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and Sheena Greitens announced Saturday they are ending their marriage through a joint statement that appeared on social media.

“After much reflection, counsel, and prayer, we’ve made the amicable decision to end our marriage, and move forward as co-parents who love our children,” wrote the couple. “For their sake, we ask for privacy and will not be commenting further on this private family matter.”

Greitens, a Republican, took office in 2017. He resigned about 18 months later after being enveloped by scandals regarding an extramarital affair and allegations of corruption.

The former governor has stayed mostly out of the public eye since leaving office. Sheena Greitens is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Institute for Korean Studies at the University of Missouri.

Jerry said...

New Yorkd Democrat Gov. sent hundred of elderly Covid patients to Senior homes to infect everyone else and to die. Why do you politicize this tricky disease from Wuhan China?

legalschnauzer said...

I didn't politicize this story; it already was political. The post isn't about missteps politicians of both parties have made re covid. It's about missteps by one politician, who happens to be a Republican, in the state where I live. Plus, it's about low vaccination rates in clusters around the country, where Trump voters tend to be dominant. So, it was a political story from the get-go, and my approach was fairly narrow, based largely on the state where I live and Missouri's status as No. 1 in new covid cases.