News Briefs

Morning COVID-19 report: 1,524 new Missouri cases, hospitals report strain on services

By: - October 20, 2020 8:42 am

Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, addresses the media as Gov. Mike Parson looks on. (Photo courtesy of Missouri Governor’s Office)

Missouri recorded 1,524 new cases and 25 additional deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday, the sixth consecutive day with more than 1,000 new cases, as hospitalizations remained at near record levels.

The morning update from the Department of Health and Senior Services showed there was at least one new case in 102 of the 117 local health jurisdictions. St. Louis County reported the most new cases, 230, bringing the county’s total to 26,555. That’s 16.6 percent of the statewide total of 159,625.

The largest number of additional deaths reported Tuesday was in Kansas City, which added eight for a total of 172. Along with the largest number of cases, St. Louis County has reported the highest death total of the pandemic, 851.

The high number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 — 1,439 as of Friday, the most recent day for which there is confirmed data — is straining capacity in some areas of the state. St. Louis Public Radio reported Monday that hospitals in the state’s largest metro area are in danger of being overwhelmed, and the Columbia-Boone County Health Department reported 91 inpatients in Columbia hospitals on Monday, 11 more than on any previous day of the pandemic.

Missouri, which ranks 22nd nationally in overall per capita infection rates, is 12th nationally since the start of October and during the month overall infections have surpassed New York and New Jersey, which had bad outbreaks in the spring.

Since recording the first day with 1,000 or more cases on July 21, Missouri has had only 16 days with fewer than 1,000 cases, including six days when the dashboard was not functioning properly or was being updated to a new version.

The state health agency has worked out the bugs with its dashboard, and on Monday added two new features. The portion covering hospitals now includes large boxes with key statewide data on inpatient numbers, ventilator use and ICU bed availability. The dashboard can also be set to give regional hospital data.

The department also added a feature to download data on cases, deaths and testing by date reported and by the date a COVID-19 test was performed.

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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.