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ST. LOUIS – Missouri now leads the nation in the most COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days.

Hot spots in north-central and southwest Missouri are to blame. Cases have spiked 52 percent over the past week with ten new cases per 100,000 residents.

The state health department now says the delta variant has become prevalent throughout the state. Only about 38 percent of Missourians have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday that she expects the delta variant of the coronavirus will become the dominant strain in the U.S. That strain has become dominant in Britain after it was first detected in India.

During an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” she told Americans who get their shots that “you’ll be protected against this delta variant.”

The Biden administration insists that even if the 70% vaccination goal is unmet, it will have little effect on the overall U.S. recovery, which is already ahead of where Biden said it would be months ago.

Biden wants to celebrate Independence Day as a “summer of freedom” from the virus.