COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to spike in southwestern Missouri, and residents there are being urged to get vaccinated before gathering for Fourth of July activities.

Springfield-Greene County Acting Health Director Katie Towns said 142 new cases of the coronavirus were reported Tuesday, and the seven-day average has reached 62, the highest level since Feb. 10.

Meanwhile, 76 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Greene County. Towns says Memorial Day gatherings were a source of some of the recent spread, and she says there is concern about the pending gatherings for Independence Day.

Meanwhile, vaccination rates in southwestern Missouri lag far behind the state and national averages.