News Briefs

Worth County last in Missouri to record a COVID-19 death

By: - December 21, 2020 11:00 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).

Death from COVID-19 has visited every county in Missouri, the Department of Health and Senior Services reported this weekend.

Tiny Worth County, with only about 2,000 people on the Iowa border, was the last of 117 local health jurisdictions to have a death recorded on the department’s coronavirus dashboard. The report, made Saturday, shows the lag in some of the state’s data — the Tri-County Health Department, which also serves DeKalb and Gentry counties, first reported a death on its Facebook page on Dec. 9.

The death was one of 94 added to the state’s totals since Friday, as the total reached 4,947 on Monday. The additional deaths were reported as the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force Community Profile report shows most of the state, including all the large population centers, are classified as “sustained hotspots” for COVID-19.

There were 3,130 new infections reported Monday, with at least one case reported for 110 of the 117 local health agencies. The seven-day average of reported cases stood at 2,959 per day on Monday.

A sustained hotspot, according to the task force report, is one that has a high sustained case burden and is at a higher risk for overburdened health care systems and restricted access to care. To be included, the area has to be showing 200 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous two weeks, with more than 15 per 100,000 per day or a test positive rate over 10 percent.

Missouri’s positive rate on tests has been falling after peaking near 25 percent in November but remains high at 17.3 percent over the past seven days as of Monday. The highest positive rate over the past seven days was in Mercer County, at 45 percent, and 113 of 117 local health jurisdictions had a positive rate of 10 percent or higher.

Overall, more than 70 of Missouri’s 114 counties and St. Louis are reported as “sustained hotspots.”

The report is another measure showing that the coronavirus pandemic continues almost unchecked just as the vaccines intended to control it are being delivered. The Department of Health and Senior Services on Sunday announced that Director Randall Williams had signed a standing order covering administration of the Moderna vaccine, the second approved for use in the United States.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which was first administered in Missouri last week, the Moderna vaccine does not have to be stored at super-cold temperatures. Like the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna product must be administered in two doses.

“Our supply from our federal partners will dictate the speed at which these vaccinations can continue to occur, and we will continue to be flexible and adapt to any changes that may be presented to us,” Williams said in the release.

In past statements, Williams has said the Pfizer vaccine will be mainly used for health care workers because of the need for cold storage while the early doses of the Moderna vaccine will be used for patients and providers in long-term care facilities.

“Shipments received from Pfizer and Moderna this week will continue to serve the most vulnerable to COVID-19 — our patient-facing health care workers and long-term care staff and residents,” Williams said in the release issued Sunday.

Case numbers have fallen in recent weeks in Missouri, with the daily average on Monday, 2,959 per day over the past seven days, down 37 percent from the peak of 4,722 per day on Nov. 20.

But hospitalizations, which peaked at 2,851 COVID-19 inpatient on Nov. 20, remain at a high level. On Friday, the last day with confirmed data, there were 2,729 confirmed in patients and the seven-day average number of inpatients was 2,638.

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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.