Missouri deploys ‘ambulance strike teams’ for hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 delta surge

Missouri’s governor announced on Aug. 6 the state would be deploying "ambulance strike teams" to help reduce the strain put on hospitals as cases of the COVID-19 delta variant continue to surge, according to a news release. 

Gov. Mike Parson announced the state would be "tripling the number of mutual aid ambulances that provide long-haul patient transfers" in five regions of the state starting Aug. 6 and expected to start transporting patients as early as Aug. 7. 

"The ambulance strike teams we positioned in Springfield have been extremely effective in helping save lives and ease the pressure on local hospitals," Parson said. "These 30 new ambulance teams triple our transport capacity and expand it to the entire state, as needed. Our health care professionals are performing heroically to save lives as the Delta variant dramatically increases hospital admissions. We will continue to support our health care heroes across the state." 

The new arsenal of ambulances will include 30 advanced life-support ambulances, five basic life-support ambulances, five specialty care ambulances and any additional medical and support personnel, the news release continued. 

Missouri ambulance

FILE - A pair of ambulances that serve both southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas are parked in the ambulance bay at the Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri on July 19, 2019. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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Ambulances originally provided by the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) from the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency will be replaced by 13 vehicles provided by the federal government. 

"Delta is the most aggressive and transmissible variant of COVID-19, and it is more important than ever to take advantage of the highly effective vaccines," Parson said. "Vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness from COVID-19. Vaccinations are free and available across the state, often with no appointment necessary, and vaccinated Missourians will have their shot at $10,000 cash or $10,000 toward an education saving account. Enter at mostopscovid.com/win." 

As of Aug. 11, Missouri has 14,112 confirmed COVID-19 cases and is administering an average of over 12,000 vaccines a day, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued to urge vaccinations as hospitals in hot spots around the U.S. see disturbing numbers of unvaccinated people ill with the highly contagious delta variant. 

RELATED: CDC urges COVID-19 vaccinations for pregnant women amid delta surge 

The variant, first detected in India, has quickly become dominant wherever it has landed, including the U.S. It has been listed as a "variant of concern" by the CDC, and the agency said it’s just as contagious as chickenpox. 

Meanwhile, in multiple states, hospital admissions have skyrocketed among adults and some children as the delta variant continues to sweep through the population. 

The U.S. is averaging more than 116,000 new coronavirus infections a day along with about 50,000 hospitalizations, levels not experienced since the winter surge. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.