Parson lauds declining rate of deaths from COVID-19

Associated Press
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2020 file photo, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson waves as he concludes the State of the State address in Jefferson City, Mo. Missouri

O'FALLON— The number of new coronavirus cases remains high in Missouri, but Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday cited the state's declining death rate as evidence that progress is being made.

Parson, speaking at a news conference, noted that in the early days of the pandemic in April and May, more than 7% of all cases were fatal. That percentage has gradually dropped and so far this month, just 0.3% of Missourians infected with the COVID-19 virus have died.

"This is all very encouraging and we continue to monitor this data each and every day," Parson, a Republican, said.

Still, the number of confirmed cases has risen dramatically since the state reopened for business in mid-June. Missouri reported 1,191 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 106,587 since counting began in March. Seven more deaths also were reported. All told, 1,739 Missourians have died from COVID-19.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams said about 60% of new cases are occurring in areas outside of the state's metropolitan areas. He said many of the places seeing spikes are mid-sized cities such as Joplin and Cape Girardeau.

"We really need to concentrate on these middle-sized communities," Williams said.

Parson also cited as reason for optimism what he called "stable" hospitalization totals. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that three of the four highest days for hospitalizations have occurred over the past week.

Data shows 1,021 patients in hospitals with confirmed or presumed COVID-19 on Saturday, the second-highest day on record. The highest was Sept. 9, when 1,040 patients were hospitalized. The fourth-highest number of hospitalizations on record occurred Friday, with 1,008 patients.


The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday turned aside two bills that sought to take away pandemic-related power from County Executive Sam Page and the health department.

St. Louis County has had more cases and deaths than any other Missouri jurisdiction, and Page, a Democrat, has initiated stricter guidelines for dealing with the coronavirus than those required statewide.

Among those restrictions are limits on youth sports competitions, which have drawn several protests and rallies.

One bill turned down by the council would have given it more involvement in how long a pandemic-related emergency declaration from the county executive could last. The other bill would have required two-thirds of council members to approve extending orders from the health department director.

The council, in a 4-3 vote, declined to take up either bill.


At least two more jurisdictions are taking new steps aimed at slowing the virus' spread.

The St. Francois County Health Board in southeast Missouri on Tuesday approved a countywide mask mandate, the Park Hills Daily Journal reported.

The approval came despite heated opposition and protests from some residents of the county, which is about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Meanwhile, St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray signed an emergency order mandating face coverings in most indoor areas except homes. The St. Joseph News-Press  reported that the mandate takes effect Thursday. The mask mandate comes as hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been spiking in St. Joseph.


Parson has signed an executive order extending mobilization of the Missouri National Guard through Dec. 30, a move the governor said will allow the Guard to continue assisting in COVID-19 response efforts.

Parson initially mobilized the National Guard on March 27. The governor's office said the Guard's role has included testing support, transporting supplies and equipment, and meal distribution.