An infectious disease specialist at the University of Missouri and the state health director offered some hopeful news about the coronavirus Monday.
In a news conference with Gov. Mike Parson, Dr. Stevan Whitt of MU said social distancing required across the state is working.
“The rate of new infections has leveled off across our state and our region,” Whitt said. “Our hospitals are able to keep up with the needs of the seriously ill, and we now have more people in the recovery phase than we have new infections.”
A few minutes later, Dr. Randall Williams, the state health director, said Monday was the first day that the state’s lab in Jefferson City did not have any new cases to report.
“This is encouraging to us,” he said.
Commercial labs did report new cases, but Williams said that because of the way they time their tests, those numbers reflect a longer period in the past.
The News-Leader was not immediately able to ask follow-up questions about those statements. All questions for the press conferences must be submitted an hour before they start, and it was not known what the men would say beforehand.
An hour before the press conference, the state released data showing another daily climb, though the 15 percent increase between Sunday and Monday was proportionally smaller than day-to-day increases in previous weeks.
As of 2 p.m., the number of recorded cases stood at 2,722.
That included 39 deaths across 12 counties and St. Louis, an increase of six over Sunday’s numbers.
It did not include all deaths, however, a result of continued delays in the state’s reporting system.
For instance, it does not include Greene County’s seventh death, which was announced Friday, or Cole County’s first death, which was announced Saturday.
Monday also brought an update on the number of patients hospitalized by the disease.
Data collected by the Missouri Hospital Association showed 439 coronavirus patients as of Monday morning, or roughly 16.1 percent of all cases. The data did not say how many of those patients have recovered.
The majority of the state’s cases continued to concentrate in the St. Louis region, where the county led the state with 1,033 cases and the city had 357.
Kansas City had 212 and Jackson County outside the city had 149.
Columbia’s Boone County had 76, and Springfield’s Greene County had 66, though the latter led the state with six reported deaths.
The updates come as Missouri lawmakers prepare to return to the Capitol on Tuesday to debate and vote on billions of dollars worth of federal emergency aid meant to help fight the virus and buoy state finances reeling from the virus.
Lawmakers expect to have the aid on the governor’s desk Wednesday, but that won’t end their time working through budgets.
They still face a May 8 constitutional deadline to pass a budget, and Parson said Monday he anticipated calling a special session for them to work through things in June if necessary.
It’s not exactly clear what the revenue picture will look like at that point, but Parson offered some hints last week, saying the state was experiencing revenue declines that “may be larger than those experienced in the Great Recession.”
When the financial collapse hit in 2007 and 2008, Missouri revenues declined $1.3 billion over two years and did not fully recover to pre-recession levels until 2014.