COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations on the decline in Missouri

Associated Press
FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2020, file photo, registered nurse Chrissie Burkhiser works in the emergency room at Scotland County Hospital in Memphis, Mo.

O'FALLON — Experts in all corners of Missouri are seeing room for optimism in the fight against the coronavirus thanks to a decline in new cases, decreasing hospitalizations and other factors.

The state health department on Tuesday reported 1,079 new confirmed cases and 133 new deaths, though 103 of those deaths occurred previously but were unreported until the state's weekly examination of death certificates. Missouri has now cited 451,493 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,686 deaths since the pandemic began last winter.

But evidence suggests that the post-holiday spike is over and things are improving. The seven-day average for new cases reported Tuesday was 27.2% lower than the previous seven-day average, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard.

Hospitalizations remain high, but are declining. Dr. Alex Garza of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said the improvements are especially noteworthy given the time of year.

"The fact that this is happening in the winter when respiratory viruses typically spread the most shows us just how effective all the preventative measures actually are when we use them," Garza said. 

Other parts of the state are seeing improvement too.

The Kansas City Star reported that the Kansas City region added 382 new cases on Monday, the lowest total in nearly three months. The region includes parts of Kansas as well as Missouri.

The Star noted that the seven-day average for the region was 580 cases, down from 1,005 just two weeks ago.

Joplin officials also were boasting better numbers, including a big decline in hospitalizations. The Joplin Globe reported that 49 people were hospitalized with the virus in Joplin on Monday, down from 105 just weeks ago.

Officials caution it is too early to ease up on things like social distancing, and that would potentially include a parade if the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl. The Chiefs will go for their second straight title when they play Tampa Bay on Feb. 7.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, officials with the Chiefs and the Kansas City Sports Commission put out a joint statement Monday confirming there would be no parade if the Chiefs win. Last year's parade drew hundreds of thousands of red-clad fans.

"We hope that this journey ends with a victory in Tampa and if that's the case, we will continue to work with the experts to celebrate safely when the time is appropriate," Chiefs president Mark Donovan said in a statement.