FRANKLIN COUNTY — An eighth grade boy has died of complications due to the coronavirus, the Washington School District confirmed Sunday. He is the first person younger than 18 to die of COVID-19 in Missouri, according to state health data.
Peyton Baumgarth, a student at Washington Middle School, died over the weekend, district officials said in a letter to parents. He last attended school on Oct. 22 and began a quarantine last week. He was hospitalized as his symptoms worsened, officials said.
District officials said the family was asking that "we all remember to wear masks, wash hands frequently and follow guidelines. COVID-19 is real and they want to remind students and parents to take these precautions in and outside of school."
Deaths in children from the virus are rare. Illinois has reported one death from COVID-19 in a resident younger than 20. Nationwide, 111 children younger than 18 have died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Missouri hit a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for the fourth day in a row Sunday, with 1,649 people across the state hospitalized with the coronavirus.
Nearly 500 people are in intensive care units in hospitals across the state, according to health officials.
The St. Louis area has more than 400 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.
Last week hospital leaders spoke with Gov. Mike Parson and state health officials, asking what the plan is to curb COVID-19 cases and advocating for a statewide mask mandate, according to the Missouri Hospital Association.
On the recorded conference call, BJC HealthCare President and CEO Richard Liekweg said there were “basically no beds” available for patients to transfer to across the BJC hospital system, which currently has 205 COVID-19 patients. While BJC hospitals treated more COVID-19 patients back in April, at the time they had postponed elective and nonemergency procedures, he said.
“We’re in the process right now of reassessing whether we’re going to need to start to cancel elective procedures (again) in order to accommodate what we think is going to continue to be a gradual increase in COVID patients at a time when our staff, like everyone else, is completely exhausted,” Liekweg said, addressing state health director Randall Williams.
“If you consider a (mask) mandate rather than just encouragement statewide — we still have too many municipalities that are creating too many options for individuals. I think a statement coming from the governor would actually put us in a much better position.”
Other state hospital officials voiced concerns about the availability of rapid tests in certain parts of the state, and about people in the state who may not take a vaccine when it is issued and won’t take other health safety measures like wearing a mask.
There were 2,349 new cases of COVID-19 recorded Sunday in Missouri, for a total of 185,535 cases and 3,026 deaths statewide.
Illinois recorded 6,980 new cases Sunday. The state’s total reached 417,280 cases with 9,792 deaths. As of late Saturday, there were 3,294 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.
The city of St. Louis recorded 8,815 confirmed cases of the coronavirus by Sunday, with 214 associated deaths. St. Louis County added 407 cases Sunday, for a total of 31,992 with 891 deaths.
St. Charles County saw a single-day jump of 424 new cases on Sunday, for a total of 12,475. St. Charles County ranks third-highest in the state for volume of cases, behind St. Louis County and Kansas City.
“We’re in the process right now of reassessing whether we’re going to need to start to cancel elective procedures (again) in order to accommodate what we think is going to continue to be a gradual increase in COVID patients at a time when our staff, like everyone else, is completely exhausted.”
BJC HealthCare President and CEO Richard Liekweg