ST. LOUIS — Missouri surpassed 7,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday as testing increased in the state, while Illinois reported its second highest daily rise in both deaths and cases since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Missouri state officials on Thursday reported 137 new confirmed cases of the virus and 11 additional deaths. There were 7,562 cases and 329 deaths in the state by Thursday afternoon.
The average number of confirmed cases reported each day statewide over the past week is on a downward trend since peaking April 12 at 256.
Missouri on Thursday reported its biggest daily jump in COVID-19 testing since late March, with 8,649 new tests reported. The jump in testing comes as the state has started using "surge testing" areas, opening testing to asymptomatic people to get a wider view of the spread of the virus in the area, Missouri state health director Randall Williams said Thursday.
Over the past week, the state has tested an average of about 3,400 people each day, up from about 1,300 per day the week before.
Illinois, which has about double the population, has been testing more than 12,000 people a day over the last week.
Illinois has not seen the same decreases in daily case counts as Missouri. State officials reported 2,563 more confirmed cases Thursday and 141 additional deaths, the second highest daily count of both measures since the start of the outbreak.
There have been a total of 52,918 known cases and 2,355 deaths statewide in Illinois by Thursday.
In the St. Louis area, including Illinois suburbs, at least 346 people with COVID-19 had died as of Thursday afternoon. The largest increases in deaths in the region Thursday were St. Clair County, which added seven deaths, and Jefferson County, which more than doubled its death toll by adding five.
Hospitalizations connected to COVID-19 in the metro area have stayed mostly stable throughout the past week.
Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said Thursday that the flattening of hospitalizations indicate the area has slowes infection rates.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that we will continue down this curve,” Garza said during a Thursday briefing, adding: "This gives us confidence then that we can now start planning for reopening the economy and loosening some of the social restrictions."
At St. Louis’ major hospital systems — BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital — 685 people diagnosed with or suspected of having the virus were receiving treatment Thursday, down by 17 from the day before. Of those, 164 were in intensive care units and 117 people were using ventilators to breathe.
Those numbers are far from overwhelming the local health care system. Garza has said St. Louis has about 5,500 available hospital beds, including about 1,000 beds in intensive care units.
In both Missouri and Illinois, state counts of the virus have differed from totals provided by local health departments, often lagging behind, but the latest numbers released by local municipalities in the metro area include:
St. Louis County: 3,136 cases, 159 deaths. The county announced 76 additional cases and three additional deaths Thursday. Possible COVID-19 deaths connected to the county include five residents of Parc Provence, an assisted living and skilled nursing home in Creve Coeur, who died of "presumed" COVID-19, a spokesman for the facility said Wednesday.
St. Louis: 1, 145 cases, 64 deaths. Deaths connected to the city include at least seven nursing home residents at Life Care Center in St. Louis.
St. Charles County: 583 cases, 34 deaths. The county is switching its reporting system, causing the number of cases to go down Thursday from 596 the day before. The county also reported one new death Thursday, a resident at Frontier Health & Rehabilitation nursing home, where now at least 16 residents with the virus have died. There has also been one death reported at the Delmar Gardens nursing home in O’Fallon, Mo.
Jefferson County: 274 cases, eight deaths. The county reported five new deaths Thursday. At least 64 people at the Festus Manor Care Center nursing home in the county have tested positive for the virus.
Franklin County: 116 cases, 13 deaths. At least 34 of the cases are from Grandview Healthcare Center nursing home in Washington. At least 11 of the nursing home's residents who were infected have died.
St. Clair County: 483 cases, 37 deaths. There were 29 new cases and seven additional deaths reported Thursday. The county's tally includes 21 deaths attributed to nursing homes: Five at Memorial Care Center in Belleville, two at the BRIA of Belleville nursing home and six at the Four Fountains nursing home and two deaths at Lebanon Care Center.
Madison County: 334 cases, 21 deaths. The county reported four new cases and two new deaths Thursday. The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported there were at least 10 deaths at the Edwardsville Care Center, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.
Monroe County: 69 cases, 10 deaths. Nine of the 10 deaths in the county were residents at Garden Place Senior Living nursing home in Columbia.
Nationally by Thursday afternoon, more than 62,700 people with the virus have died in the U.S., according to a New York Times database. More than 1 million people across the country have tested positive for COVID-19.
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