News Briefs

First Missouri child to die of COVID-19 is middle school student

By: - November 2, 2020 8:52 am

The deaths data, which the department calls “probable” COVID-19 fatalities, is being added eight months after the department began reporting antigen-identified infections in its daily report (image courtesy of CDC).

A middle school student from Washington, Mo., is the first child in the state to die of COVID-19.

Peyton Baumgarth, an eighth grader, died over the weekend, the School District of Washington told parents in a letter sent Sunday, KSDK television in St. Louis reported.

Prior to the death of Baumgarth, no person under 18 and only five from 19 to 24 had died of the disease that can cause pneumonia and other severe symptoms, according to data on the Department of Health and Senior Services dashboard.

The district stated that Baumgarth was last in class on Oct. 22 and began experiencing symptoms on Oct. 26, KSDK reported.

The news of the boy’s death came as the department reported 2,651 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, the fifth consecutive day of more than 2,000 new cases. Prior to Thursday, when the department reported a record 3,061 new cases, there had been only six days total with more than 2,000 new cases.

There have been 188,186 COVID-19 cases since the first was reported in early March. Of that number, 57,073 were reported in October, the most of any month.

The department reported five additional deaths on Monday, bringing the total since the first was reported in mid-March to 3,031.

The Monday morning report also shows the state is at peak levels for cases per day, positive rate on testing and hospitalizations over the past seven days. The new hospitalizations continue the pressure on large and small health providers across the state, who told Gov. Mike Parson and state health Director Randall Williams on Thursday that they face a crisis as they try to transfer cases that need higher levels of care than they can provide.

In that conference call, where some hospital CEOs complained that the state is not doing enough to reduce cases, Williams said most Missourians will have to wait until at least March for the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The state is looking for ultracold storage for its allotment of vaccine, which is expected to arrive around Nov. 15, Williams said. The vaccine will arrive without an authorization for use, which Williams said he expects within two weeks of the delivery of the vaccine.

The need for cold storage means the first vaccine to be distributed will be the one developed by Pfizer, which must be kept well below zero to remain effective.

“They are pre-positioning it, which again is just incredibly innovative,” Williams told hospital CEOs on the weekly conference call coordinated by the Missouri Hospital Association. “So that when they do get the final approval from the vaccine administration council that it will be in place to immediately start vaccinating.”

The first people to receive the vaccine will be health care providers, followed by first responders, then the general public, Williams said.

“But realistically, for the general population to be vaccinated, it’s going to be March and April,” Williams said. “So it’s two shots, a month apart.”

One of the biggest issues with controlling cases until the vaccine is available is making residents of rural Missouri aware that the virus is spreading rapidly in smaller communities, Williams said.

During October, 29 of the 30 Missouri counties with the highest per capita infection rates have fewer than 50,000 residents.

“It appears to be more and more an event-type cluster spread where people go to events or functions or areas and they’re all together, and they let their guard down because it’s all people they know,” Williams said.

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Rudi Keller
Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller covers the state budget and the legislature. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he spent 22 of his 32 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics for the Columbia Daily Tribune, where he won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.