New COVID-19 cases plummet in Missouri

Mike Stucka
Florida Presbyterian Homes CEO Joe Xanthopoulos, dressed as Santa, receives a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination from Walgreens Pharmacist Ericka Gutierrez at the Florida Presbyterian Homes in Lakeland, Florida, on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Missouri reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Saturday, adding 17,925 new cases. That's down 19.1% from the previous week's toll of 22,153 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Missouri ranked No. 38 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,327,043 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of -12.3% from the week before. Across the country, six states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Testing has changed around the holidays, making comparisons difficult. Labs and testing sites closed. People traveled or prepared for the holidays instead of getting tested. Some counties and states didn't report data as quickly.

Across Missouri, cases fell in 88 counties, with the best declines in St. Louis, St. Charles and St. Louis City counties.

>> See how your community has fared with recent coronavirus cases

The share of Missouri test results that came back positive was 14.9% in the latest week, compared with 15.2% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 117,319 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 136,942. Experts say it is important to look at the share of tests that come back positive, not just case counts, to get a better idea of whether the rate of new infections is changing or if differences in testing are playing a role.

The World Health Organization says places should be conducting enough tests to have fewer than 5% coming back positive. Places where the percentage is higher could struggle to complete contact tracing soon enough to prevent spread of the virus.

Within Missouri, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Crawford, Iron and Carroll counties. Adding the most new cases overall were St. Louis County, with 2,971 cases; Kansas City, with 1,317 cases; and St. Charles County, with 1,297. Weekly case counts rose in 28 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Pulaski, Jackson and Crawford counties.

In Missouri, 422 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Saturday. In the week before that, 446 people were reported dead.

A total of 390,466 people in Missouri have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 5,470 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 18,982,634 people have tested positive and 331,909 people have died.

Note: In Missouri, the tally of "counties" here includes St. Louis County and St. Louis City (listed here as St. Louis City County). Kansas City is broken out separately by Johns Hopkins University. Tallies listed here are built off 116 "county" entries.