Missouri COVID-19 Update - Going the Wrong Way?

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
FILE – In this June 21, 2018, file photo, the Gateway Arch is seen in St. Louis. A newly expanded museum underneath the Arch is set to be open on July 3 and is the final piece of a massive $380 million renovation of the grounds surrounding and entrance to the iconic monument. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Missouri has managed to remain in the middle-of-the-pack relative to the other 49 states (and D.C.) We certainly have not been spared the virus, but we also haven’t been ravaged the way New York, New Jersey, and even Illinois were early on.

Missouri’s statewide “shut down” order was implemented on April 6th and lifted May 4th, though some of the metropolitan areas (including St. Louis City and County) had added restrictions. Following the “re-opening” of the state, Missouri was faring pretty well.

Unfortunately, over the last couple of weeks, our numbers have been increasing at a sharper rate — and the headlines, of course, have sounded the alarm. I’m continuing to track the numbers daily. Here’s where Missouri sits as of July 26th (per Worldometers):

Missouri now ranks 27th (among the 50 states plus D.C.) in total number of reported cases, with 42,171. (That’s up two spots — and 8,269 cases — from eight days ago.) Currently, Missouri has 6,871 cases per million persons, which puts it again/still 41st in the ranking (as it has been). For frame of reference, as of that last update (July 18), Missouri has seen an increase of 1,347 reported cases per million persons.


There have now been 1,228 deaths in Missouri attributed to COVID-19, placing it 25th in total deaths (down a spot from a week ago.) In terms of deaths per million persons, Missouri has 200 (an increase of 11 deaths per million persons since the last update), placing it at 29th again/still.

In terms of testing, Missouri has now reported 676,873 (86,712 more since July 18th), which puts it in 24th place (same as before). The state has 110,286 tests per million persons, which places it 44th (down a spot since last check).

So, taking a step back, the only category where there’s been an appreciable change (relative to the other states) is in the total number of reported cases. Again, this cannot be attributed solely to increased testing, as the testing has increased at a lower rate. (See chart below — testing is the gray line, reported cases is the blue line.) Thus, Missouri’s “positivity rate” (i.e., reported cases per total tests) has increased — up from 5.7% last week to 6.2% presently — still below the United States as a whole (8.0% and, e.g., Florida, which is sitting at 12.4% currently.


I don’t mean to minimize the significance of the climbing case count. A month ago, we were seeing daily increases in the 300-500 range, with a rate of increase in the 1-2% range. Right now, we’re seeing them top 1,000 new cases per day and hover more in the 3% range daily in terms of the rate of increase. I’d like to see that blue line start trending back down and that gray line track with or above it. Thankfully, the orange/brown line (daily % increase in reported deaths) remains lower.


Honestly, though, relative to the U.S. as a whole, Missouri stacks up pretty well. We have roughly one-half of the cases per million (6,871 versus 13,034). We have less than half the deaths per million (200 versus 451). We could, however, do better in testing — we’ve got just over two-thirds of the tests-per-million (110,286 versus 161,120).

Of course, if you were following the local headlines this week, you’d think we were on the brink of disaster:


In the face of the recent uptick in numbers — and the alarming headlines — local officials are contemplating re-imposing closures.

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Friday more restrictions could be coming as the county set another record for daily coronavirus cases.

Restrictions on youth sports took in effect in St. Louis County Monday, which means no more competitions or tournaments.

The county reported 375 new COVID-19 cases Friday, breaking the one-day record set Thursday.
Page said he is working with the pandemic task force daily to determine the best course of action moving forward.

“We’re considering more restrictions,” Page said. “The hospital admission rate is getting close to that 40 admissions per day mark that we had set several weeks ago as the point where we would start talking about restrictions.”

Unfortunately, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data regarding hospitalizations in Missouri hasn’t been updated since July 12th. Per the dashboard:

Please note, due to an abrupt change in data measures and the reporting platform issued by the White House on Monday, July 13, and effective Wednesday, July 15, Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) and the State of Missouri will be unable to access critical hospitalization data during the transition. While we are working to collect interim data, situational awareness will be limited.  We will resume producing the daily hospitalization snapshot as soon as the data feeds are fully restored.


I’ll keep monitoring the data and providing updates when possible. And I want to add — I very much appreciate the input from readers I’ve been getting in the comments and via e-mail.


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