News Briefs

High COVID case counts sending some Missouri students into virtual classrooms

By: - October 23, 2020 9:04 am

(Getty Images)

Missouri continued its string of days reporting 1,000 or more new coronavirus infections on Friday, adding 1,811 new infections amid growing difficulties for school districts trying to maintain in-class instruction.

While one of the state’s largest districts, Columbia Public Schools, opened doors for elementary students for the first time on Monday, the small Maries County R-I School District in Vienna, with 446 students, is shutting down for two weeks.

“We are sorry to have to do this but, due to a large increase of positive COVID-19 test results and close contacts within our student body and staff, the health department has recommended that we close school for students starting tomorrow, 10/23 and remain closed through next week,” the district stated in a post on Facebook. “We are hoping to return to seated classes the week of November 2 but this will be re-evaluated next week as the reopening date approaches.”

The district will provide instruction through virtual education until it can bring students back, the post stated.

Maries County, which has a population of 8,700, has seen an 87 percent increase in total cases this month, and 35 of the 75 new cases this month have been reported in the last seven days.

The 1,811 new cases reported Friday is the 17th day this month that the Department of Health and Senior Services has tallied more than 1,000 cases. On three of the 23 days, the department did not report new cases because its dashboard was not operating, and on two additional days the report was either an error or an adjustment that did not reflect a single day of new reports.

There was at least one new case in 109 of the 117 local health jurisdictions.

Hospitalizations and the positive rate on tests remained at near-peak levels. The Missouri Hospital Association reported 1,349 inpatients were being treated as of Monday, the most recent day with complete data, and the seven-day average stood at 1,420, just below the peak of 1,428.

The positive rate on tests over the last seven days stood at 21.3 percent on Friday morning, with 10 local health departments reporting a positive rate of more than 50 percent.

Moniteau County has had 86.8 percent of its tests come back positive over the past seven days.

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Rudi Keller
Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy and the legislature. He’s spent 22 of his 30 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics, most recently as the news editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Keller has won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.

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