White House report: Missouri among top 5 states for new COVID-19 cases last week

Austin Huguelet Springfield News-Leader
Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, talks to the media at the Missouri Capitol. The task force continues to rank Missouri among the worst states for COVID-19 spread.

Missouri continued to add COVID-19 cases at a higher rate than the vast majority of other states last week, according to federal experts.

In its latest report, the White House Coronavirus Task Force wrote that the state added 179 new cases for every 100,000 residents last week, a 23 percent increase over the previous seven-day period.

The figure was the fifth-highest among all states, more than twice the national average and good for a ninth straight week in the task force’s “red zone.”

Missouri showed some improvement in the percentage of tests coming back positive, posting an 8 percent figure that was the lowest since the first full week of August, though it remained 10th-highest among all states.

The death rate also dropped to 1.3 per 100,000 residents, or 79 in total for the week.

But new admissions to hospitals were the highest they’ve been since early August, with hospitals reporting admitting 331 patients with confirmed or suspected infections each day.

The task force also reported that 74 percent of Missouri counties had moderate to high levels of community transmission, with 45 percent at the “high” level.

The top three counties for cases were St. Louis County, Jackson County and Greene County, which together reported 30 percent of the 10,962 total cases reported last week.

The task force also continued to urge Missouri to implement a statewide mask mandate to “prevent unnecessary transmission and deaths in vulnerable communities.”

But Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has repeatedly and publicly rejected the idea as unnecessary outside of major cities that imposed their own local mask requirements, despite documented spread outside those areas.