An area of Missouri with low COVID-19 immunization rates has seen a 27% spike in hospitalizations and a public call for respiratory therapists, according to an Associated Press report.

Springfield, a city in the state’s southwest, apparently has been hit hard by the COVID-19 Delta gene variant, which has made significant inroads in the United States after contributing to massive outbreaks in India and other countries.

The city’s two hospitals, CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield, had 213 COVID-19 patients over the holiday weekend, up from 168 on Friday. (In late May, the hospitals had just 31 patients, the AP reported.) CoxHealth has begun transferring up to five patients a day as it tries to hire more traveling nurses, it told the news outlet Monday. 

“After what we’ve seen in the last month everyone is just holding their breath, especially after a holiday weekend like this, knowing that there were large gatherings,” Mercy Springfield’s chief administrative officer, Erik Frederick, said. The hospital ran out of ventilators over the weekend but were able to borrow one before another patient arrived in need, he told the AP. But it needs more staff to handle the surge, he said.

“If you are an RT [respiratory therapist] call us,” he tweeted on July 5.

Missouri ranks 29th in the United States and its territories in weekly COVID-19 vaccinations for nursing home residents and staff members, according to data as of June 20 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccination rates among the Springfield area’s general population are lower than the state’s average of 45%, the AP noted.