Missouri hospitals are reeling from an influx of COVID-19 patients and the surge has prompted one hospital to open up a second intensive care unit.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have soared 135% at Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City over two weeks and the hospital is currently treating 40 patients, according to local ABC affiliate KMBC.
Doctors say the patients coming through their doors are unvaccinated 30- to 50-year-olds.
“For the longest time we have been now on just one unit. But now we had to kind of spill over into a second unit again. We haven’t had to do that for quite some time, a few months," Dana Hawkinson, the medical director of infection prevention and control at The University of Kansas Health System, said to The Kansas City Star.
At the same time, several counties in Missouri are rolling back COVID-19 restrictions and no longer require masks indoors. Kansas City rescinded all indoor COVID restrictions except for masks on Friday.
Doctors are urging the public to maintain social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing, despite the relaxed rules.
"I would definitely encourage people to still follow CDC guidelines," Dr. Sarah Boyd, an infectious disease specialist with Saint Luke's Health System, said to KMBC.
Today, Missouri reports 833 COVID-19 hospitalized patients with 137 in the ICU and remaining ICU bed capacity of 22%. State data shows that ICU patients plummeted at the start of 2021 but slowly ticked up again in early April.
Of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, 18 to 24-year-olds followed by 25 to 29-year-olds were responsible for the brunt of new infections this year.
So far more than 1.7 million people in the state of Missouri have completed their vaccination series, which accounts for 28.3% of the state’s population, the state's health department reported.
Missouri is is just one of several states, including Florida, Washington, Michigan and Colorado, seeing spikes in virus cases and hospitalizations among younger people.
Experts have said there are several reasons behind the rise -- the fact that young people were the last to get the vaccine, hesitancy over the shots, pandemic fatigue and attending group activities.
Dr. Rupali Limaye, an associate scientist in International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told ABC News factors such as young people returning back to work coupled with “variants that are more infectious and severe” are driving the influx of COVID-19 cases among young people.