Another COVID-19 milestone in Missouri

By Margaret Stafford The Associated Press

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Missouri surpassed the 200,000 mark Friday, and the number of people hospitalized with the virus is fast approaching 2,000, according to state health department records.

Missouri had a record 3,931 newly confirmed cases on Friday bringing the total since the pandemic began to 200,507 cases. The state also had 25 new deaths on Friday, bringing the total to 3,131. The state's seven-day average of new cases reached 2,697 on Friday.

As of Thursday, there were 1,925 people hospitalized with probable or suspected coronavirus cases in the state, the department said.

Several chief medical officers from Kansas and Missouri hospitals in the Kansas City region said Friday that they are not yet turning away patients who need urgent or emergency care but that they could reach capacity in the next few weeks and are making contingency plans for that situation.

On Tuesday, 11 hospitals in the region had 153 non-intensive care beds available, with 76 that could be fully staffed, and 32 intensive care beds available but only 22 that could be fully staffed, David Wild, vice president of performance improvement for the University of Kansas Health System, said. He noted those numbers change daily, depending on staffing and other factors.

The chief medical officers met with public officials privately before holding a news conference to discuss the situation and press the public to redouble efforts to follow safety protocols and prevent a hospitalization crisis.

Raghu Adiga, chief medical officer at Liberty Hospital, said medical officers cannot tell public officials what policies they should enact in response to the coronavirus but they want them to join medical and health officials in stressing the importance of infection control measures, especially in rural areas and as the holiday gatherings begin.

“We want to make sure we all speak in the same voice ... so that the message gets across to the public," Adiga said.

Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday acknowledged the increasing COVID-19 cases and said the state has enough hospital capacity. He said “COVID fatigue” has set in for many people but that it is critical for residents to wear masks, practice social distancing and other health protocols.

“The bottom line is that COVID-19 is still here and it is serious,” Parson said. “Like I've said since day one, we must do our part and take responsibility for actions.”