SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The spike in COVID-19 cases is leading to a surge of critical illnesses in southwestern Missouri.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department on Friday reported the largest number of critical care and intensive care unit patients since the pandemic began, KYKY-TV reported. Health officials in Missouri's third-largest city say 44% of the 167 COVID-19 patients there are considered critical care or are being treated in the ICU.

The Missouri health department on Friday reported 3,330 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state in the last seven days. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Missouri has had 9,440 new cases over the 14 days ending Thursday, the most new cases per capita nationwide over that time period.

State health officials said 890 new confirmed and probable cases were added on Friday, along with three new deaths.

The delta variant of the virus is believed responsible for much of the spread in Missouri, especially in the southwestern and northern parts of the state. Officials also cite low vaccination rates, especially in rural areas.

Data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that 313 of the 833 people hospitalized statewide with COVID-19 are in southwestern Missouri.