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More Than 10,000 Missouri Residents Have Now Died From COVID-19

A health care worker at Truman Medical Centers/University Health inoculates Kansas City Fire Department EMT Shawn Byrne with the Pfizer-BioNTech covid vaccine. Although three members of that fire department died of covid-19, firefighters were not included in the first phase of vaccine distribution in Missouri.
Truman Medical Centers/University Health
A health care worker at Truman Medical Centers/University Health inoculates Kansas City Fire Department EMT Shawn Byrne with the Pfizer-BioNTech covid vaccine.

New cases and hospitalization in the Kansas City area continue to climb, even as the statewide spike shows signs of slowing.

Missouri's death toll for the coronavirus reached more than 10,000 on Thursday, nearly a year and a half after the first COVID-19 cases were identified in the state.

Although the spike in new cases that started in southern Missouri earlier this summer has slowed down, the virus continues to push Kansas City to levels not seen since the winter.

This week, new cases in the Kansas City metro area reached an average of 679 per day, and an average of 156 patients are hospitalized each day, according to the Mid America Regional Council.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued a warning to Kansas City area counties via social media: “Hospitals in the region are seeing resource strain from dramatically increased numbers of COVID-19 patients and hospitalizations. As a result, several hospitals in the region are at or near capacity."

An average of 121 COVID patients are in ICU care in the Kansas City region, according to state health department data. That's nearly equal to the heights reached at the beginning of 2021, and slightly less than the all-time high in November.

Missouri led the nation in the rate of new COVID-19 cases in the United State during several week this summer. But according to analysis by the New York Times, the case rates in several states now surpass Missouri’s, where the case rate has slowed to 46 new infections per 100,000 people.

Missouri is still higher than the national case rate of 37 infections per 100,000 people, but it's well below several mostly southern states, including Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi.

However, the case rate in Kansas City, Missouri, has climbed to 50 per 100,000, higher than the rates in both Greene County and Joplin, which had been epicenters of the mid-summer surge but where new cases have since declined.

Missouri’s health department reported that a total of 10,002 COVID patients have died, but the actual total is likely higher. Since early fall 2020, the health department regularly reported older COVID deaths that were discovered later through examination of death certificates. These deaths have added thousands to the count, often weeks after the death actually took place.

Rates of vaccination have increased in Missouri, with an average of more than 13,000 shots administered each day this week. Just 42.6% of Missouri residents are fully vaccinated, below the national average, but the state's partially vaccinated rate of 49.7% suggests it may be catching up – daily vaccination numbers have gone up in recent weeks.

In Kansas City, Missouri, 40.2% of resident have completed their shots.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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