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Missouri COVID-19 cases jump again, as St. Louis considers pulling back reopening

Missouri COVID-19 cases jump again, as St. Louis considers pulling back reopening

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Missouri on Wednesday reported another spike in COVID-19 cases, as St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said the city could retighten restrictions on social gathering to prevent further spread.

Missouri reported 888 new COVID-19 cases, its second-most in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic. The state on Tuesday recorded 936 cases, the third time in eight days it set a single-day record.

The rapid rise in cases has prompted cities across the state to require face coverings in public spaces, which health officials say reduces virus transmission.

But with cases continuing to rise, and no vaccine yet available, cities may have no choice but to increase restrictions on gatherings and businesses, said Dr. Alex Garza, director of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, which includes the area’s four major hospital systems.

“If we continue to see the rate of increases in cases....in hospitalizations, in admissions, in people in our intensive care units.. there are very few levers to pull, outside of then pulling back on those societal restrictions,” Garza said during a news briefing Wednesday afternoon.

Around the same time, Krewson said she is considering rolling back some of the gradual reopening of the city economy because recent “COVID numbers continue to not look very good.”

The city reported 90 more cases Wednesday, continuing a steady increase in recent days.

“We will be meeting here today and tomorrow to figure out if we need to take any steps to pull back,” the mayor said in a Facebook Live session from her City Hall office. She did not elaborate on what is being considered.

A primary driver of new COVID-19 cases is infections among teens and young adults, who experience milder symptoms and faster recovery, including outbreaks from youth sports.

In St. Louis County, there have been six to eight new cases of COVID-19 reported daily in children and teens ages 10 to 19, county officials said. At least two high schools, Eureka and Kirkwood, have reported cases in student-athletes participating in football workouts.

“We know that gatherings of young people and adults around youth sports are the primary source of spread in the community,” County Executive Sam Page said at a news briefing Wednesday.

‘Across the river'

Illinois on Wednesday reported 1,187 new COVID-19, cases, bringing the state’s total 156,693. The state also reported eight deaths, bringing total virus deaths to 7,226. At least 1,454 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms.

Overall, the rate of both new cases and deaths in Illinois have dropped significantly since the start of the pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, but the state has seen recent outbreaks from social gatherings.

Youth ages 10 to 19 “are having higher case rates now than ever before in this pandemic,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, citing youth sports as a source of some outbreaks.

Pritzker said he would issue statewide orders restricting business and social gatherings if cases and hospitalizations continue to increase, saying residents should abide by the state’s order requiring face masks to prevent further spread.

“There are people who view this as political...it’s not political,” Pritzker said. “This is just about caring about your community and about people you love.”

Pritzker also urged Illinoisans who work in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 infection to use caution, including Metro East residents who cross into Missouri.

“It’s very important for people who live in those areas to be aware of following mitigations that we’ve suggested in Illinois, in other words making sure you maintain your distance, wear your face covering — even if it isn’t required in the state that you’re going into,” Pritzker said.

Illinois has required face coverings in public settings for anyone over the age of 2 since May 1.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has said he will not issue a statewide order requiring face coverings. Meanwhile, Springfield on Monday joined a growing list of Missouri jurisdictions requiring face coverings in public when social distancing is not possible, including St. Louis city and county, Kansas City and Jackson County.

{h1}Hospitalizations{/h1}The seven-day moving average of people newly admitted to area hospitals for COVID-19 symptoms remained steady at 30. Thirty-four people were admitted to hospitals Wednesday, up from 28 admitted to hospitals Tuesday.

217 people remained hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 symptoms, and 146 people remained hospitalized for suspected COVID-19 symptoms.

“We know we’re behind the curve now, and it’s going to take us that much more time to get the curve turned around,” Garza said.“How the future plays out ... doesn’t depend as much on the health care systems as it does on the community.

“And it’s as simple,” Garza said, “as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing our hands.”

Blythe Bernhard and Mark Schlinkmann of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.

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