Greene County passes 100 coronavirus deaths

Associated Press
File - A testing kit sits on the windshield of a car as it passes through a drive-through COVID-19 testing site set up by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and operated by the Missouri National Guard Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Charles, Mo.

ST. LOUIS — Health officials in Springfield on Tuesday announced another sad milestone in the coronavirus pandemic — Greene County has topped 100 deaths.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department announced 12 new deaths, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 101. One victim was in his 70s, eight were in their 80s and three were in their 90s.

In the first six days of October, Greene County has reported 24 deaths.

"As the number of deaths caused by this virus continues to climb, we must never lose sight of the solemn role we all play to protect each other from this deadly disease. Wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance and stay home if you are sick," the county's health director, Clay Goddard, said in a statement.

Though Missouri has no statewide face covering requirement, Springfield is among several local jurisdictions that have imposed their own. Springfield's requirement to wear a mask in public places was extended Monday, now running through at least Jan. 9.

Among reporting jurisdictions in Missouri, only the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City and St. Louis, St. Charles and Jackson counties have reported more deaths than Greene County.

Statewide, Missouri reported 1,165 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to 134,583. The state also reported 26 new deaths. All told, 2,200 people in Missouri have lost their lives to COVID-19.

The virus also is prompting a surge in absentee voting. Election officials in St. Louis County told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch  that nearly 20% of the county's registered voters have sought absentee ballots. In fact, more than 4% have already voted.

Eric Fey, the county's Democratic director of elections, said the board had mailed 132,413 absentee ballots as of Saturday, and 28,732 had already voted either in person or by mail.

"The workload is intense right now," Fey said, "but that is typical for a presidential election. We're working very hard to stay up to date with poll worker recruiting and training, voter registration, voting machine testing, and absentee voting."

Election officials in other St. Louis-area counties also cited unprecedented numbers of voters seeking to cast absentee ballots.

"Frazzled is an understatement," said Kurt Bahr, the elections director for St. Charles County. "My employees who have been through multiple presidential elections all agree they've never seen anything like this."