Health officials have issued a Hot Spot Advisory for Laclede, Phelps, and Pulaski County. According to the Health Department in recent weeks broad regions of Missouri have experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The so-called Delta Variant which spreads more easily and poses a higher risk of hospitalization is believed to be contributing to the increase. The hotspot advisory has been issued because cases are increasing in those counties, and county vaccinations rates are below the state average of 40 percent. Health officials continue to advise residents to protect themselves and reduce the risk of contracting the virus with frequent handwashing and wearing a mask in public. Those who are eligible are encouraged to get vaccinated.