Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says the state wants to increase the vaccination rate for COVID-19. The state’s rate that lags behind the rest of the nation and Missouri is in the midst of a big spike in cases and hospitalizations. Missouri reported 854 newly confirmed cases Wednesday, one of the largest one-day totals since February. The state reported nine new deaths. The increase is driven largely by a big jump in cases in southwestern and northern Missouri Those areas have been hit hard by the fast-spreading delta variant. Hospitalizations have risen sharply over the past month, mostly in southwestern Missouri. State data shows 334 people are hospitalized in southwestern Missouri, compared with just 86 in mid-May.