State data showed more than 3,000 people in Missouri had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 53 people had died as of Tuesday afternoon, and a closer look at the numbers indicates there may be more of each.
On Tuesday, Gov. Mike Parson announced an emergency rule making it easier for police, firefighters and other first responders who contract the coronavirus to collect workers compensation benefits, by establishing a presumption that their disease was work-related.
At first glance, the numbers amounted to an increase of 315 cases and 14 deaths compared to data reported Monday afternoon.
Making direct comparisons with state numbers remains difficult given continued discrepancies with county-level data, however.
For example, the double-digit increase in the number of deaths likely didn’t all happen overnight. As early as Sunday, when the state’s count was 34, further review of local data indicated the real number was already in the mid-40s.
On Tuesday, the state totals remained different from local numbers in some of the state’s largest jurisdictions.
For example, St. Louis County said this morning it had 24 deaths, but the state said it had 15. The city of St. Louis said it had 440 cases and 10 deaths, while the state said it had 399 cases and five deaths. The state totals also say Greene County has six deaths despite local officials reporting a seventh four days ago.
Nevertheless, the state data clearly shows the center of the state’s largest outbreak remains in the St. Louis area.
There have now been 1,203 confirmed cases in St. Louis County, which leads the state, 399 in the city of St. Louis, 221 in St. Charles County and 92 in Jefferson County.
On the other side of the state, Kansas City has 219 and Jackson County outside the city has 154.
Boone County gained another case Tuesday, bringing the county’s case total to 71. Of those cases, 50 are reported as recovered. Most of the county’s cases continued to be between the ages of 25 and 44. 21 of the cases were reported to be by community transmission.
Howard County reported its first case Tuesday, the county Health Department confirmed on Facebook. In a press release sent to area outlets, the department also confirmed that the patient is hospitalized, though the release did not specify where.
Adair County confirmed its 11th case Tuesday, while Audrain’s number remained at zero.
Springfield’s Greene County had 67 cases, according to the state, though local data posted Tuesday showed 72.
However, early research indicates a substantial number of people who contract the virus may not have symptoms, meaning the actual caseload could be higher than what has been reported. A dearth of testing availability, especially in March, may have also deflated the overall case count.
Of the dead reported by the state thus far, roughly 69 percent were over the age of 70, despite making up just 9 percent of overall cases. Roughly 22 percent of all cases were in patients 65 or older, the age group at highest risk for getting very sick from the virus.
Nursing homes have been severely impacted in Missouri, especially Frontier Health & Rehabilitation in St. Charles, where 35 residents and seven workers have tested positive since the outbreak was first reported March 23, and test results are still pending for 14 others. Three residents of the nursing home have died from COVID-19.
Frontier houses 113 mostly elderly patients who are recovering from medical procedures. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch cited inspection reports in which the nursing home received poor reviews after federal inspectors allegedly observed nurses clean residents, change their clothing and deposit soiled clothing without washing their hands.
Separate data compiled by the Missouri Hospital Association also offered a look into what hospitals are seeing. Using data from the previous three days from 114 of 154 hospitals, the association said hospitals were treating 508 coronavirus patients as of Tuesday morning, an increase of 69 over the day before.
Those hospitals also had 472 patients "under investigation" for the disease, an increase of 33 from the day before.
Roughly a third of crucial intensive care beds were available among hospitals surveyed. More than half of those facilities' potentially lifesaving ventilators remained available.
As of Tuesday morning, the Boone Hospital Center had performed 865 total tests, 590 in their drive-thru service, and confirmed 16 cases over the course of testing. MU Health Care, which will be closed for drive-through testing on April 12 for Easter, reported three inpatient cases of the virus and seven pending investigation.
Nationwide, there were more than 386,817 cases and 12,285 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, there were more than 1.4 million cases and more than 81,000 deaths.
Gabriela Velasquez of the Columbia Daily Tribune and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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