Updated at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday with more information.
ST. LOUIS — For the third time in eight days, Missouri has reported its largest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Tuesday’s numbers continue to show the largest outbreaks are in and around St. Louis, Kansas City and southwest Missouri. Hospitalizations, a lagging indicator of the virus’ spread, are also on the rise, with the St. Louis area seeing the highest number of COVID-19 hospital admissions since May.
Missouri reported 936 cases Tuesday, topping the previous single-day record of 795 cases set Thursday. Three days earlier, the state reported a then-record increase of 773 cases.
Before last week, the state’s record for new cases in a single day was 553, set on June 25.
The state also reported 10 deaths Tuesday, bringing the total number of dead to 1,093. At least 28,826 people have tested positive for COVID-19.
Health officials have expressed concern in recent days about rising infection rates among young adults. Young people, who typically experience milder symptoms and quicker recovery, “may unknowingly carry the virus to someone older, or with underlying conditions,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, at a news briefing Tuesday with Gov. Mike Parson.
“We need young people to take this virus seriously and understand the responsibility they have in the health of their families and communities,” Williams said.
The rise in cases has also been attributed to increased testing statewide. But while more laboratories are reporting test results that may reflect infections from days earlier, infections are on the rise too, Williams said.
Williams and Parson insisted that while the cases are increasing, the state economy can continue reopening as long as people practice social distancing, wear masks, wash hands and practice safe hygiene.
“We know so much more about the virus today,” Williams said.
Facing a rise in cases, Springfield on Monday joined a growing list of Missouri cities and counties to mandate facial coverings in public settings. St. Louis city and county, Kansas City and Jackson County, among others, have done the same.
The governor, who has come under criticism after his campaign posted photos online of a maskless Parson interacting with the public over the weekend, said he would not issue a statewide order requiring face coverings. But he encouraged “anyone who feels comfortable wearing a mask” to wear one.
“You can’t go to every event as the governor of the state of Missouri and people stay 6 foot away. You just can’t,” Parson said. ”You can recommend it, you try to do the best you can and that’s all I’m asking people to do.”
“I know this mask is a political hot button issue now nationally and in the state. ... If you feel comfortable wearing a mask, you need to wear a mask. By all means, do that.”
Students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, meanwhile, could start classes virtually next month. The district’s school board is “strongly considering” not opening school buildings because of the rising numbers of COVID-19 in the community, according to an email sent to families this week. Online learning would continue at least through October 21, the end of the first quarter.
School districts in the region are expected to release their reopening plans on Monday. Most have indicated they will offer virtual and in-person options for students
Nearly every county in Missouri has reported new COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, with outbreaks mostly concentrated in urban areas and outlying counties, according to data from the University of Missouri.
In the St. Louis region, St. Charles County has emerged as a COVID-19 hot spot. The county recorded at least 687 new cases over the last 14 days, a 64% increase, according to University of Missouri data. At least 80 people in the county have died of COVID-19.
Just over half of new cases in the past two weeks have been among adults 20 to 39, a change from the beginning of the pandemic when nursing homes and older adults were hardest hit by the virus. Now, COVID-19 cases are connected to workplace infections and domestic travel, said Demetrius Cianci-Chapman, the health director in St. Charles County.
And, alarmingly, an increasing number of people who contracted COVID-19 can’t narrow down where they may have been exposed to the virus, Cianci-Chapman said.
“That’s because people are not being as vigilant about who they are having contact with,” he said.
General Motors will temporarily lay off about 1,200 workers at the Wentzville Assembly Plant starting July 20 after at least 23 workers at the plant were infected with COVID-19, and other workers didn’t report to work out of fear of becoming infected.
Illinois reported 707 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases there to 155,506. At least 7,218 people in the state have died of COVID-19.
The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency also reported a spike in coronavirus cases among young people, and they warned the county may have to regress in its reopening plan if that persists.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Tuesday that $108.5 million in emergency funds will go to help grade schools and colleges respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The allocation includes $49 million for colleges and universities, $50 million for grade schools, and $10 million specifically for early childhood programs. The money comes from federal emergency funds granted to state governors.
In the St. Louis region, the weekly average number of people being hospitalized for COVID-19 increased Tuesday to the highest level since mid-May, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. At least 360 people were hospitalized Tuesday with confirmed COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 symptoms, up from 307 Monday.
The rolling seven-day average of new hospital admissions increased from 29 Monday to 30 Tuesday, the highest average since May 11, according to task force figures. The average peaked April 10 at 60 before dropping steadily to 14, its lowest point, in early June.
At least 208 people were being treated for COVID-19 at task force hospitals as of Tuesday, with an additional 152 patients suspected of having COVID-19. At least 3,223 people have been released from hospitals after recovering from COVID-19 symptoms.
Cianci-Chapman encouraged people to follow health recommendations that were issued at the beginning of the pandemic: social distancing, wearing face masks, and washing hands.
“It’s really up to every person to be responsible and take those necessary actions,” he said.
Blythe Bernhard contributed to this report.
These maps and charts show the spread of COVID-19 in Missouri and Illinois.