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Missouri, Illinois, St. Louis all report COVID-19 records. 'Precarious place,' says Pritzker

Missouri, Illinois, St. Louis all report COVID-19 records. 'Precarious place,' says Pritzker

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ST. LOUIS — Missouri, Illinois and the St. Louis region broke a litany of records on Tuesday for COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Officials in some areas began moving toward tighter virus-related restrictions. St. Louis and St. Louis County officials said on Monday that more restrictions may be necessary if the trajectory continues. Illinois leaders cautioned on Tuesday new limits in the Metro East are possible, too.

“The nation is in a precarious place right now in this pandemic,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during a briefing Tuesday. “We are monitoring the numbers closely and additional statewide action is possible.”

Cases and hospitalizations have risen steeply over the past two months, doubling or even tripling in some area counties. Worse, death totals in Missouri and Illinois are now rising again, too, after a summer during which they were largely under control:

Missouri reported on Tuesday 2,055 total hospitalizations, a record for the sixth consecutive day. The seven-day average, based on data that lags three days, has more than doubled since the beginning of September. And deaths rose by 146, a record one-day increase, according to Post-Dispatch data.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported a record 114 new COVID-19 patients admitted to area hospitals, and 657 total COVID-19 patients, also a record. Task force data lags two days, and includes patient numbers from BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital facilities in the metro area.

And Illinois on Tuesday reported 12,623 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, a record number, and 79 deaths. Worse, the state said 4,742 patients were in hospitals overnight, approaching record levels not seen since the spring.

“We need to gird ourselves for winter,” Pritzker said. “We have potentially months of the fight ahead of us.”

Every region of Illinois is under heightened restrictions. Three, including Region 5, which covers parts of Southern Illinois outside of the Metro East, will move into a second level of restrictions beginning Wednesday, prompted by positivity rates above 8%, which continued to rise after more than two weeks under the first level of restrictions.

Region 4 — which takes in Madison, St. Clair, Bond, Clinton, Monroe, Randolph and Washington counties — reported a positivity rate of 12.7% on Tuesday. It has exceeded 8% for more than two weeks.

“With these numbers, it’s expected that we will be following suit,” said Herb Simmons, executive director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, during a briefing Tuesday.

Some of the deaths in Missouri were from other days, but had not been reported previously. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said that 138 were added to the state dashboard on Tuesday, after the department reviewed death certificates. Three occurred in September, 123 in October, and 12 in November, the department said.

The department reviews coronavirus death data usually on a weekly basis, which often results in sharp upticks in the numbers.

The state added 4,256 new cases, well above the reported seven-day average of 3,454.

Missouri has reported 216,697 cases of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, and 3,299 deaths.

Illinois has reported a total of 511,183 cases and 10,289 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Nine months is a long time,” Pritzker said. “But we can’t let our guard down. Look at these numbers.”

Annika Merrilees • 314-340-8528 @annie3mer on Twitter amerrilees@post-dispatch.com

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