JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri on Thursday reported an increase of more than 1,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and the highest number of hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, Illinois reported 3,059 new cases of COVID-19 — the state’s highest new daily caseload since the pandemic initially peaked in May.
Data from the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services showed a total of 137,156 confirmed cases and 2,259 deaths since March. That was 1,505 more cases and 23 more deaths than reported Wednesday.
The department also reported 1,344 Missourians were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases on Wednesday — up from 1,241 the previous day. The state averaged 1,204.9 hospitalizations in the previous seven days.
One of the largest hospitals in southwest Missouri has seen a big rise in hospitalizations. CoxHealth spokeswoman Kaitlyn McConnell said the Springfield hospital on Thursday was treating a record 93 COVID-19 patients.
“Because this surge came to the Midwest later than other parts of the country, we were able to prepare by aggressively gathering PPE and expanding our facilities, and are currently managing through this crisis,” McConnell said in an email. “However, we are distressed by the rising number of cases and what they mean in our community. We ask our community, and those across the country, to continue to take preventative measures against the spread of this virus.”
Missouri Hospital Association spokesman David Dillon said the nearly monthlong trend of spiking hospitalizations is troubling, and he noted that many people getting care in regional hubs like Springfield are from smaller towns around those hubs.
“This is clearly moving through the communities, especially rural communities, and they have less capacity to treat it locally,” Dillon said.
State health department spokeswoman Lisa Cox said that while hospitalizations are up, the state continues to have a sufficient supply of ventilators and available intensive care unit space.
In the St. Louis area, new hospital admissions for COVID-19 rose from 40 on Wednesday to 41 on Thursday, while the seven-day moving average of hospital admissions remained at 34, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported.
The task force data lags by two days, and includes patient numbers from BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital facilities in the metro area.
The number of COVID-positive patients in intensive care units rose, from 76 to 80, and the number of confirmed COVID-positive patients on ventilators also rose, from 46 to 47, the task force also reported.
In Illinois, health officials reported the state’s highest new daily caseload in nearly five months.
The state last topped 3,000 daily coronavirus cases on May 14, when infections were confirmed among 3,239 people.
While the Illinois Department of Public Health had reported more than 5,300 cases on Sept. 4, that figure was the result of a three-day data processing backlog.
The state agency also reported Thursday 32 more COVID-19 fatalities, raising Illinois’ death toll to 8,910.
The newly confirmed COVID-19 cases bring the total number of known infections to 310,700 statewide since the pandemic began.
Illinois has seen an average of about 2,100 new cases per day over the last two weeks. That’s nearly triple the state’s rate in early July, but still under the roughly 2,500 cases that were being added per day in early May.
Illinois’ testing capacity has surged since then, however. Thursday’s caseload was confirmed among 72,491 tests submitted to the state — the fourth highest total ever.
More than 58,000 tests have been processed per day on average over the last two weeks, compared to only about 17,300 per day in early May.
A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health said “it is more informative to look at trends over time and using 7-day rolling averages” than daily case totals.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned Wednesday in his weekly COVID-19 update that Illinois’ progress in combating the pandemic had “cooled off a bit, across Illinois.”
The Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
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