Confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri prisons have spiked more than 50% so far this month, an increase a spokeswoman attributes to heightened testing.

ST. LOUIS — Confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri prisons have spiked more than 50% so far this month, an increase a spokeswoman attributes to heightened testing. 

There have been 333 new cases among prisoners and Department of Corrections staff so far this month, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Previously, the prison system reported 661 cases cumulatively. 

Prisons in Bonne Terre and Pacific, Missouri, saw the biggest spikes. 

Confirmed cases increased from 105 on Aug. 1 to 232 as of Tuesday at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre. At the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific, cases rose from 108 to 163.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann attributed the rise in reported cases to an increase in testing. 

Pojmann said all inmates and staff have been tested for COVID-19 at least once. She said many patients were asymptomatic, and mass testing identified most cases in prisons. 

Statewide, there have been 71,733 confirmed cases of the virus, according to cumulative data updated Thursday. 

Hospitalizations increased from 875 Sunday to 921 Monday, the most recent data available through the state health department. 

Considerably fewer people are dying from the virus in Missouri compared to its peak in April and May, when the daily death tolls were in the double digits. Another three people were reported as dying from the virus Thursday. In total, the virus has been attributed to 1,417 deaths in the state. 

The virus also continues to cripple businesses. The owner of four St. Louis-area malls said Wednesday it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by Oct. 1, the newspaper reported.