Support Local Journalism
Your membership makes our reporting possible.
“I thought this was going to be really good timing (for my deployment),” Garza said, “and then the delta variant came along. It’s hard to tell what the state is thinking right now. It’s concerning.”
On the day we talked, Springfield, in deep-red southwest Missouri, was hitting its record for the most hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the entire pandemic. The next day, Parson lashed out at Springfield hospital officials — without naming them — for raising alarm bells. Then, he directed his leaderless health department to tell the federal government that their “agents” were not welcome to go door-to-door in Missouri forcing residents to get vaccines, an idea that had never been contemplated.
By the time the White House was pushing back on Parson’s latest irresponsible action as leader of a state that is one of the worst-performing in the country in terms of vaccinating its population, the chagrined governor was walking back his statements and welcoming the federal help — and financial resources — of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This moment reminds Garza a lot of the beginning of the pandemic. Then, the virus rushed into the state from the coasts, to St. Louis and Kansas City, eventually infecting every county. This time, the hot spot is in rural Missouri, and it’s growing quickly — the delta variant is more “virulent” than the original virus, Garza says — and, without quick action, will hit Missouri’s cities, and spread to the nation.