COVID-19 Cases Rise Rapidly In Missouri As Cooler Weather Forces Indoor Activities | KCUR 89.3


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For much of October, there were so few new cases of COVID-19 in County Knox, health director Lori Moots said she was starting to hope the pandemic was almost over. for his constituents.

The Knox County Corn Festival in early September, she said, did not produce the dreaded spike in cases. And on October 8, the Ministry of Health was able to report that there was only one active case in the county of 3,744 people.

Over the past two weeks, that has all changed.

As of Friday, there were 54 active cases, 13 more than at any time since the first infections were identified in mid-June 2020.

“Going into Halloween, I predicted it would hopefully be out of here before indoor sports rolled around,” Moots said on Tuesday, “and it just broke on November 1.”

Knox County is an extreme example of what happened statewide in November.

The main culprit remains the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which hit the state in May and drove hospitalizations to near record highs as it peaked in august.

While political battles more hide mandates remained hot, the wave of the Delta variant cooled. The daily average of new cases, however, remained more than double the late May low of 396 per day.

The downtrend stopped at the end of October. So far in November, the Department of Health and Seniors’ Services has reported 21,190 new coronavirus infections. The seven-day average of reported cases rose from 975 per day on Oct. 31 to 1,418 per day on Wednesday, an increase of more than 45%.

On Friday, for the first time since August 22, the daily average exceeded the same-day rate of the previous month.

Wednesday’s rate remains below half of the August 5 peak and less than a third of the pandemic peak of November 20, 2020.

The state health department reports 12,423 deaths among people with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3,257 who have died since early May.

At least 10 people died every day from July 4 to October 22. The highest number of deaths, 46, occurred on August 29. The highest single-day death toll for the pandemic in Missouri is 77, on November 23 and December 9. , 2020.

Over the past two weeks, state hospitals have reported a daily average of around 1,000 COVID-19 hospital patients. While this figure is well above the average of around 650 at the end of May, it is down about 60% since mid-August.

Look ahead

Wastewater sampling, which can identify variants and predict whether cases will increase, shows the viral spread is increasing statewide. The program in early May identified the arrival of the Delta variant in Branson.

“I think we’re going to see a steady increase for a month or two, but probably not as bad as last year,” said Marc Johnson, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the University of Missouri. Johnson’s lab is analyzing sewage samples for the state.

In late June, as the Delta variant increased, Johnson accurately predicted daily cases would triple by the end of July.

The current increase in cases comes as the coronavirus vaccination is now open to everyone from 5 years old and booster shots are available for many inoculated people early in the year. The state report shows that 50.4% of all Missourians have completed the vaccination.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Seniors’ Services released an access point notice, the first in nearly a month, for seven counties in northwestern Missouri. The list includes Buchanan County, home to St. Joseph’s, the largest city in the region.

Of those counties, six have already surpassed the total number of cases for October.

The increase in northwestern Missouri appears to be part of a larger regional trend, according to the advisory.

“Our neighboring states like Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois also have higher case rates than Missouri, and many of our border counties in the upstate appear to be disproportionately affected. “, Lisa Cox, state health spokesperson. department, wrote in an email to The Independent.

The trend of cases is on the rise in almost all areas of the state. In the past week, 77 of the state’s 118 local health departments saw an increase in cases from the previous week. Only 36 showed declining cases.

There are 26 local health departments where per capita infection rates have exceeded the rate for the entire month of October. Only six local health jurisdictions exceeded per capita infection rates from September to October.

Samples from 73 sewage systems, tested in the first week of November, showed 16 systems with increasing levels of coronavirus particles and 11 where the load was decreasing. Tests last week showed 29 were increasing and only five where the virus was decreasing. Otherwise, the trend was uncertain.

When there is a 40 percent increase in viral load in one week, health officials can expect a 25 percent increase in cases the following week, health officials said. ‘State in June.

Platte County, which is adjacent to the region identified in the advisory, has seen a 63% increase in cases in the past seven days compared to the previous week.

“At the moment, it is difficult to have an exact cause for the increase in cases,” Aaron Smullin, spokesman for the Platte County health department wrote in an email. “We don’t have any epidemics or events in common. Our current thinking is because of Halloween activities. We saw a similar increase in the number of cases around the same time last year. “

As of the end of October, nearly 22% of new cases statewide are in children under the age of 18. Much of the cases in Platte County also involve children, Smullin wrote.

The demand to immunize children is good, he wrote.

“We have several clinics scheduled in Platte County, and they filled up very quickly,” he wrote. “We are seeing a very high demand for doses of the pediatric COVID vaccine. “

The trend of increasing cases in Missouri is seen in many states, Johnson said. The states with the highest rate of increase, Johnson said, are those where cold autumn weather pushes people inside.

“When you look at the distribution across the country, what’s going on right now has a lot more to do with your latitude than your vaccination rate,” Johnsons said.

Location of County Knox

The small staff of the Knox County Health Department are working as hard as they can to deal with the crush of new cases, Moots said.

“We worked for Veterans Day and are dividing the workload among three nurses for contact tracing,” Moots said. “We’re just doing it, hoping he’s about to make his way here and slow down.”

The 54 active cases correspond to one in 75 people with COVID-19. Knox County has the third lowest population among the counties in the state.

If the same proportion of active cases were to occur in Boone County, with more than 180,000 people, that would represent more than 2,450 active cases, the equivalent of every infection reported since September 17. The Columbia-Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department reported 334 active cases Tuesday afternoon.

In St. Louis County, the state’s largest population with nearly one million, a similar ratio of active cases would be equal to all cases reported since September 24.

Of the 68 cases identified by Knox County this month, 26 involved children under the age of 10. Moots said she started issue warnings several weeks ago via his department’s Facebook page that people shouldn’t assume that symptoms like coughing or sneezing were due to allergies or that illness in children, like coughing, vomiting or diarrhea, was due to a cold or foodborne pathogen.

“We had rainy weather and recess was held indoors,” Moots said. “All the meals went inside. There were no outdoor activities for the little guys. This is where we really saw the explosion, from Kindergarten to Grade 6.

The large number of new cases reported by Moots’ department are not reflected in the state health department’s report, which shows just 20 cases so far this month, 17 in the two last few weeks.

“The 17 cases we currently have include antigen and PCR testing, but it’s certainly possible that they have a vendor in the region that doesn’t report directly to DHSS as required,” Cox wrote in an e- mail. “We are studying this with the local public health agency. “

Moots said she was unaware of the discrepancy and was too busy to check the state report.

The vaccination rate in Knox County is better than in most rural Missouri. The county was 51st in completed vaccinations, with 38.1 percent inoculated. But many of them are older residents of the county, Moots said.

It is difficult to convince many young adults to get vaccinated.

“At the end of the day, these people aged 16 to 46 that would be in the hot zone, they’re just not going to do that,” Moots said.

Cases in children have been generally mild and monoclonal antibody treatments are readily available in the area to manage adult cases, she said. The disease is not as severe, overall, as it was at the start of the pandemic.

She had personal experience of the disease in children.

“My 9-year-old was due for the vaccine and contracted COVID last week,” Moots said. “It also interrupted my boosters.”

This story was originally published on the Independent from Missouri.

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