Missouri reports 3,998 new coronavirus cases on Thursday

Kansas City metro area health officials are grappling with how to handle continuing case count increases after reopening businesses more than four months ago.



Mike Parson wearing a suit and tie: Gov. Mike Parson


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Gov. Mike Parson

What you need to know:

  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Wednesday the state has 162,061 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and there have been 1,679 deaths since the outbreak started. Kansas is now only updating COVID-19 data on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said Thursday there have been 309,368 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak and 4,102 deaths.

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THURSDAY

3:30 p.m. — Shawnee County, Kansas is rejecting part of the new federal and state guidelines for shortening the time people are quarantined after they’re possibly exposed to COVID-19.

Part of the new guidance Wednesday said people who’ve been exposed to coronavirus and show no systems can end a quarantine after seven days if they test negative.

But County Health Officer Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino said Shawnee County will not follow that recommendation because it is worried about overloading its testing system.

Pezzino also said the spread of the virus remains uncontrolled in the county. The county has had almost 8,200 cases since the pandemic began.

3:05 p.m. — The Kansas City Missouri Health Department said Thursday it now has confirmed 23,533 cases of coronavirus and 300 deaths in the city.

3 p.m. — The Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Department said Thursday it is going to keep its school gating criteria in the “Orange” category.

“Our positivity rate has dropped to 5.8{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c}, driven by our recent surveillance testing in the community that has begun in the past couple of weeks,” Director Dan Partridge said. “Our 14-day moving average of new cases per day has come down from the recent spike, but our number of active cases in the community is still high. We feel it’s best to leave the school gating criteria in Orange. We encourage everyone to stay vigilant with public health practices, including masking up and social distancing, as we hope these trends continue in the right direction, including trying to reduce the number of active cases.”

2:30 p.m. — Gov. Mike Parson is updating Missouri’s COVID-19 response after the state reported 3,998 new cases and 59 additional deaths on Thursday.

2:15 p.m. — A majority of the inmates Kansas is housing in a privately run Arizona prison have coronavirus. The Kansas Department of Corrections said Thursday there were 77 active coronavirus cases among the inmates housed out-of-state as of Monday.

The department said it is housing 118 offenders at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. It has moved inmates there to prevent crowding in Kansas state prisons.

A department spokeswoman said the numbers of cases among Kansas inmates at the Arizona prison appears to be consistent with numbers for outbreaks in Kansas prisons. The state has reported more than 162,000 coronavirus cases and 1,679 deaths in Kansas since the pandemic began.

11:30 a.m. — The Clay County Public Health Center said Thursday that it is still recommending people stay in a 14-day quarantine after coming in close contact with somebody with COVID-19.

“Yesterday CDC announced new options for reducing the length of quarantine,” the health department said in a news release. “These options are for people identified as close contacts of someone with COVID-19 and who do not show symptoms. Clay County Public Health Center is currently taking these options under consideration and will release updated local guidance as soon as it’s available.”

11:15 a.m. — Mayor Eileen Weir today Thursday all public and employee meetings in the City of Independence will be conducted virtually with no in-person or hybrid options available.

Additionally, the mayor said Independence will discontinue commercial utility disconnects for a period of 60 days. All late fees on utility accounts, both commercial and residential, have been waived for the next 60 days, Weir said.

Residential disconnections will continue following all applicable rules and regulations. Disconnect notices will continue to be sent out for all customers as these notices are needed to participate in some Utility Assistance Programs.

“Cases of COVID-19 are growing at alarming rates across the United States and the Kansas City region is unfortunately following the same trend,” Weir said.

“We are taking steps today to limit the need for in-person interactions where we can. Our public meetings, which include Council Meetings and Study Sessions, will be accessible to citizens and stakeholders via YouTube and City7. We also know the increased cases are causing additional stress for families and businesses.

“We hope that by eliminating our commercial disconnects and all account late fees for City of Independence Utility customers we can ease some of the worries for families in our area. We still have funds available in our Utility Assistance Program and encourage anyone who has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 with an outstanding utility bill balance to apply for the program at cslhousing.org.”

11 a.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 3,998 new confirmed cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 309,368 since the pandemic began.

There have now been 4,102 deaths linked to COVID-19 in Missouri, which is up 59 from Wednesday’s reporting.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 3,124,697, and 97,007 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 18,437 positive cases, an average of 2,634 cases a day and 98 deaths in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 23,715 (+400) confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 17,660 (+421) cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 4,717 (+120) cases in Clay County, 3,815 (+174) in Cass County and 1,626 (+145) in Platte County.

10:45 a.m. — The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment has updated its quarantine recommendations for individuals who are close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases.

These recommendations follow the recently announced CDC quarantine protocol. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced yesterday that counties in Kansas can choose to adopt the CDC’s revised guidance on the length of quarantines.

For those individuals identified as a close contact, the new recommendations from the county include:

  • If close contacts get a PCR COVID-19 test on day 5 or later after being exposed to a COVID-19 case, and they are negative and have no symptoms, they must quarantine for 7 full days and may return to activities on day 8.
  • If close contacts do not get tested after being exposed to a COVID-19 case, and they have no symptoms, they must quarantine for 10 full days and may return to activities on day 11.
  • Due to high risk situations, residents in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and prisons are not eligible for the shortened quarantine period.

All close contacts should self-monitor for the entire 14 days from exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop.

“Quarantining and testing are important components in the understanding and controlling of the virus in our community. Even if someone does not have symptoms, we still recommend anyone exposed to COVID-19 to consistently and correctly wear a mask, keep distance from those not in your household and wash hands frequently” Dr. Sanmi Areola, JCDHE director, said.

10:15 a.m. — Johnson County reported Thursday morning 25,107 (+585) cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, 4,295 cases in the last 14 days and 713 cases per 100,000 people in the county over the last 14 days.

The county said it has 16,366 (+343) presumed recoveries, 294 (+1) people have died, and 856 (+16) people have been hospitalized since the start of the outbreak.

Johnson County said it has tested 190,429 people with 165,322 tests coming back negative.

As of Wednesday, the school reopening gating criteria – the 14-day rolling total used by the county to make recommendations on how schools should reopen – remained in the red phase and the percent positivity moving average is at 14.7{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c}.

The county said 67{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the deaths in Johnson County have come from senior living facilities.

8 a.m. — It’s the understatement of the decade to say 2020 has been a tough year. Right now, across the metro and the country, some families can’t pay the bills because of job losses or other issues related to the pandemic. That means the holidays won’t be the same.

The Salvation Army is working hard to keep up with an increased need as more families are coming to them for help with paying the bills or having enough food in the house. Officials said the Salvation Army has seen a 155{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} increase in requests for help. READ MORE

7:30 a.m. — Wyandotte County is reporting Thursday morning 11,180 (+159) confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started and 422 (+8) probable cases. The county said 180 (+0) people have died from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak.

The county’s COVID-19 report indicates which ZIP codes have the most recent cases. Over a 14-day period, the 66104 ZIP code had 228 cases, followed by 66102 with 218, 66109 with 209 and 66106 with 166.

7 a.m. — The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track.

According to numbers from Thursday morning, there have been 99,693 people who have recovered from the coronavirus.

This includes 16,023 in Johnson County, 7,950 in Wyandotte County, 3,261 in Leavenworth County, 3,915 in Douglas County and 896 in Miami County.

6 a.m. — Missouri plans to bring in hundreds of health care workers from other states to help provide care as already-stretched hospitals prepare for a possible increase in COVID-19 cases resulting from the Thanksgiving holiday.

Gov. Mike Parson and Herb Kuhn, president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association, announced Wednesday the state will partner with Vizient, a private national health care company, to recruit up to 760 more health care workers for Missouri.

Kuhn said the partnership comes as early data raised concerns about a possible surge in new COVID-19 cases because of Thanksgiving travel. He said data showed Missourians’ travel for recreation and retail increased an average of 40{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} daily from Nov. 23 to Thanksgiving Day.

“In the days and weeks ahead as these workers arrive, they will provide essential support to our hospitals and health care workers, those who have been on the front lines of care since March,” he said. “These extra skilled care givers are essential to address staff shortages that are presenting a critical threat to hospital capacity here in Missouri.”

Parson said the state will use federal stimulus money to pay for Vizient, a Texas-based company, to provide the care for at least the next 12 weeks. The cost will be paid by the state and hospital partners.

The workers will include registered nurses, respiratory therapists and certified nurse assistants. When fully deployed, the plan will add nearly 600 hospital beds to Missouri’s statewide bed capacity, Parson said.

As of Wednesday, Missouri recorded a daily average of 2,827 new cases of COVID-19 over the past seven days, raising its total since the pandemic started to 305,370 confirmed cases. As of Sunday — the latest data available — the state reported that 2,651 people were hospitalized in Missouri with COVID-19 and that only 27{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the state’s inpatient hospital beds were unoccupied.

“Staffing is one of the biggest challenges facing our hospitals right now,” Parson said. “The issue is not so much about physical beds or space. We have plenty of hospital beds available. The issue is that there aren’t enough doctors and nurses to staff these beds.”

Details of where the workers will come from and the cost of the program were not yet available.

Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the state should receive 51,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine soon after a Dec. 10 meeting of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration vaccine advisory committee. Doses of a vaccine from Moderna are expected the week of Dec. 21, if emergency authorization is approved, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Department spokeswoman Lisa Cox said Wednesday that roughly 105,000 doses of that vaccine are expected.

The state has chosen 10 sites around the state that could vaccinate about 35,000 health care workers and long-term care facility staff first, followed by residents of long-term care facilities, Williams said.

Those vaccinations are expected to be completed by the end of January. About 3 million “critical infrastructure” workers, such as first responders, teachers and workers at food manufacturing plants should be vaccinated by February, and the state expects to have the vaccine available to the general public by mid-April or early May, he said.

Even as cases surge, some health officials in Kansas City and St. Louis County are getting pushback after closing some bars and restaurants in recent days for violating coronavirus restrictions.

A Kansas City bar owner is asking a Jackson County court to issue a temporary restraining order to overturn a 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants, which the city and Jackson County imposed two weeks ago as part of a series of restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. The bar is asking to be allowed to stay open until 3 a.m.

St. Louis County health inspectors on Tuesday shut down four businesses that they said violated a ban on indoor service at restaurants and bars. Kansas City health inspectors closed five businesses over Thanksgiving weekend — four for violating a 10 p.m. curfew and one for hosting a large gathering.

Opponents of the restrictions contend public officials, such as Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, should not have unilateral authority to close or restrict businesses.

Lucas noted in a statement Tuesday that 4,000 Missourians have died from COVID-19, including more than 1,000 in the Kansas City area.

“We stand by our responsible steps to keep people safe,” Lucas said. “Missouri courts have held consistently that our communities have the right to protect public health. We will continue to do so.”

[ CLICK HERE FOR MAPS OF COVID-19 CASES BY COUNTY IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

[ TRACKING COVID-19 CURVE OF CASES, DEATHS IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

WEDNESDAY

9 p.m. — More help is on the way to Missouri hospitals. Overall, Missouri does not have a hospital bed shortage, it has a medical staffing shortage. The state is cutting a deal, bringing in about 760 more hospital staffers for the next 12 weeks. READ MORE

5:10 p.m.— Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday passed a $1.2 billion coronavirus aid package, then left without taking action on Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s proposal to prevent lawsuits against health care workers and businesses during the pandemic.

Parson in October called lawmakers back to work to give his administration approval to spend roughly $1.1 billion in federal funding to fight the coronavirus, in addition to some state taxpayer dollars. He tacked on the lawsuit bill to his to-do list for lawmakers last month. READ MORE

5 p.m. — During a Wednesday briefing, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said the state is expecting to receive the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December, once a vaccine is approved. Kelly said the state will received about 24,000 doses from Pfizer. Moderna is expected to shop ship 49,000 doses. In total, Kansas will have 150,000 doses by the end of the month. Distribution begins with health care workers and nursing homes in Phase 1.

3 p.m. — Health officials in Kansas City and St. Louis County who shut down some bars and restaurants in recent days for violating coronavirus restrictions are facing legal action and criticism from business owners and some public officials.

A Kansas City bar owner is asking a Jackson County court to issue a temporary restraining order to overturn a 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants, which the city and Jackson County imposed two weeks ago as part of a series of restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. The bar is asking to be allowed to stay open until 3 a.m.

St. Louis County health inspectors on Tuesday shut down four businesses that they said violated a ban on indoor service at restaurants and bars. Kansas City health inspectors closed five businesses over Thanksgiving weekend — four for violating a 10 p.m. curfew and one for hosting a large gathering.

The pushback over dining restrictions comes during a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state and concerns about hospitals having enough beds to treat patients.

As of Wednesday, Missouri recorded a daily average of 2,827 new cases of COVID-19 over the past seven days, raising its total since the pandemic started to 305,370 confirmed cases. As of Sunday — the latest data available — the state reported that 2,651 people were hospitalized in Missouri with COVID-19 and that only 27{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the state’s inpatient hospital beds were unoccupied.

Gov. Mike Parson was scheduled to announce later Wednesday plans for new assistance for hospital staff and an expansion of the state’s overall hospital capacity.

The court petition opposed to the curfew was filed Tuesday by the Blue Line hockey bar. It contends that the business restrictions are unlawful because they were issued through emergency authority by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and County Executive Frank White rather than through the City Council and Jackson County Legislature, The Kansas City Star reported.

Jackson County does not have jurisdiction over Blue Line because the bar is within Kansas City.

Lucas noted in a statement that 4,000 Missourians have died from COVID-19, including more than 1,000 in the Kansas City area.

“We stand by our responsible steps to keep people safe,” Lucas said. “Missouri courts have held consistently that our communities have the right to protect public health. We will continue to do so.”

The four businesses that were closed Tuesday in St. Louis County were among dozens of restaurants and bars that received cease-and-desist letters from the county in recent days. The four continued to serve customers indoors after receiving three written warnings, health officials said.

The orders, which have been in place in the county since Nov. 17, restrict bars and restaurants to takeout and delivery or serving diners outdoors.

Some public officials have challenged St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s authority to impose the orders. On Tuesday, the County Council approved a resolution to undo most of the health order and encourage Page to seek the council’s approval for future orders.

However, the county counselor’s office told the council it didn’t have the power to overturn a health order. and Page said later that the resolution was symbolic, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

About 150 people, including several Republican state and local officials, rallied outside one of the businesses that was shut down later Tuesday. They said they support legislation to curtail local governments’ authority to enact COVID-19 restrictions.

Republican Sen. Andrew Koenig, whose district includes much of central and western St. Louis County, said he would propose a bill to put a two-week limit on local government-mandated business closures.

12:30 p.m. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 4,615 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Monday, pushing the statewide total to 162,061 since the outbreak started.

KDHE officials said Wednesday the death total grew by 119 to 1,679 and hospitalizations increased by 185 to 5,290 since the outbreak started. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is scheduled for a news conference at 4 p.m. Wednesday and she is expected to discuss the spike in deaths.

Health officials said Wednesday that 32{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} (-7{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c}) of ICU beds are available and 76{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the state’s ventilators are available.

The state said it has tested 831,182 people with 669,121 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 17.1{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c}.

[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]

Sedgwick County continues to have the highest confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak with 28,617. Johnson County is second with 28,078 cases. Wyandotte County is third with 11,781 cases.

Leavenworth County has 3,895 cases, and Douglas County now reports 4,737. The Douglas County case count is largely tied to increases at the University of Kansas.

Health officials said the median age of people with COVID-19 is 39, and they are monitoring 493 active outbreak clusters with 213 clusters reported in long-term care facilities.

The state is also reporting that Johnson County has 14 COVID-19 exposure locations, Douglas County is reporting four and Leavenworth County has one.

10:45 a.m. — The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the recommended days a person must quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 from 14 days to 7 or 10 days. READ MORE

10:36 a.m. — Gov. Laura Kelly will also hold a news conference Wednesday to update COVID-19 and the vaccine distribution plan for the state of Kansas.

10:25 a.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 2,679 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 305,370 since the pandemic began.

There have now been 4,043 deaths linked to COVID-19 in Missouri, which is up 37 from Tuesday’s reporting.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 3,103,739, and 104,224 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 19,797 positive cases, an average of 2,827 cases a day and 75 deaths in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 23,715 (+81) confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 17,660 (+152) cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 4,717 (+35) cases in Clay County, 3,815 (+106) in Cass County and 1,626 (+115) in Platte County.

10:15 a.m. — Johnson County reported Wednesday morning 24,522 (+274) cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, 4,536 cases in the last 14 days and 753 cases per 100,000 people in the county over the last 14 days.

The county said it has 16,023 (+316) presumed recoveries, 293 (+4) people have died, and 840 (+6) people have been hospitalized since the start of the outbreak.

Johnson County said it has tested 189,491 people with 164,695 tests coming back negative.

As of Wednesday, the school reopening gating criteria – the 14-day rolling total used by the county to make recommendations on how schools should reopen – remained in the red phase and the percent positivity moving average is at 14.6{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c}.

The county said 66{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the deaths in Johnson County have come from senior living facilities.

9:20 a.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced a 5 p.m. news conference on Wednesday to discuss hospital capacity across the Show-Me State. Parson will be joined by Missouri Hospital Association President and CEO Herb Kuhn.

7:30 a.m. — Wyandotte County is reporting Wednesday morning 11,021 (+60) confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, with 86 patients currently hospitalized and 414 (+15) probable cases. The county said 180 (+2) people have died from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak.

The county’s COVID-19 report indicates which ZIP codes have the most recent cases. Over a 14-day period, the 66104 ZIP code had 220 cases, followed by 66102 with 2216, 66109 with 210 and 66106 with 163.

7 a.m. — The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track.

According to numbers from Wednesday morning, there have been 96,753 people who have recovered from the coronavirus.

This includes 15,707 in Johnson County, 7,950 in Wyandotte County, 3,165 in Leavenworth County, 3,635 in Douglas County and 753 in Miami County.

6 a.m. — Nearly 37,000 Americans died of COVID-19 in November, the most in any month since the dark early days of the pandemic, engulfing families in grief, filling newspaper obituary pages and testing the capacity of morgues, funeral homes and hospitals.

Amid the resurgence, states have begun reopening field hospitals to handle an influx of patients that is pushing health care systems — and their workers — to the breaking point. Hospitals are bringing in mobile morgues. And funerals are being livestreamed or performed as drive-by affairs.

Health officials fear the crisis will be even worse in coming weeks, after many Americans ignored pleas to stay home over Thanksgiving and avoid people who don’t live with them.

“I have no doubt that we’re going to see a climbing death toll … and that’s a horrific and tragic place to be,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “It’s going to be a very dark couple of weeks.”

November’s toll was far lower than the 60,699 recorded in April but perilously close to the next-highest total of almost 42,000 in May, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Deaths had dropped to just over 20,000 in June after states closed many businesses and ordered people to stay at home.

The fast-deteriorating situation is particularly frustrating because vaccine distribution could begin within weeks, Michaud said.

At Mercy Hospital Springfield in Missouri, a mobile morgue that was acquired in 2011 after a tornado ripped through nearby Joplin and killed about 160 people has been put into use again. On Sunday it held two bodies until funeral home workers could arrive.

At the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, burials are up by about one-third this year compared with last year, and the cremated remains of about 20 people are sitting in storage while their families wait for a safer time to hold memorial services. The dead include a husband and wife in their 80s who succumbed to COVID-19 five days apart.

“You want to be safe at the gravesite so you don’t have to do another graveside service” for another family member, said Richard Lay, Bellefontaine Cemetery’s vice president.

The Star Tribune in Minneapolis-St. Paul saw a 40{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} increase in the number of pages dedicated to paid obituaries in November, largely because of COVID-19, a spokesman said. By Nov. 29, the newspaper had 11 pages of obituaries, compared with about half that many on a typical Sunday.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, the National Guard trucked in cots, medical supplies, tables and other items needed to operate a 250-bed field hospital in the event the state’s medical centers become overwhelmed.

Rhode Island opened two field hospitals with more than 900 beds combined. The state’s regular hospitals reached their coronavirus capacity on Monday. New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak earlier in the year, reopened a field hospital last week on Staten Island. Wisconsin has a field hospital in West Allis ready to take overflow patients. A Nevada hospital has added hospital bed capacity in an adjacent parking garage.

“Hospitals all around the country are worried on a day-to-day basis about their capacity … and we’re not really even into winter season and we haven’t seen the impact of Thanksgiving travel and Thanksgiving gatherings,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

The number of hospital beds is just one concern. Many hospitals are scrambling to find enough staff to care for patients as the virus surges almost everywhere at once, Adalja said.

“You can’t just say we’ll have doctors and nurses from other states come because those other states are also dealing with COVID patients,” he said.

The virus is blamed for over 268,000 deaths and more than 13.5 million confirmed infections in the United States. A record 96,000 people were in the hospital with the virus in the U.S. as of Monday. The U.S. is seeing on average more than 160,000 new cases per day and almost 1,470 deaths — equal to what the country was witnessing in mid-May.

State and local officials also are responding with shutdowns, curfews, quarantines and mask mandates.

California officials said the state could see a tripling of hospitalizations by Christmas and is considering stay-home orders for areas with the highest case rates. Los Angeles County already has told its 10 million residents to stay home.

In Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt declared Thursday a day of prayer and fasting as the state’s confirmed coronavirus infections neared 200,000. State health authorities Tuesday reported a one-day high of over 1,700 hospitalizations.

Stitt, who tested positive for the virus in July, has donated plasma to help other patients recover and said he will do it again.

“I believe we must continue to ask God to heal those who are sick, comfort those who are hurting and provide renewed strength and wisdom to all who are managing the effects of COVID-19,” he said in a statement.

[ CLICK HERE FOR MAPS OF COVID-19 CASES BY COUNTY IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

[ TRACKING COVID-19 CURVE OF CASES, DEATHS IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

TUESDAY

9:15 a.m. — The University of Kansas Health Systems said Wednesday it is treating 159 COVID-19 patients with 59 now in recovery. There are 100 listed with acute infections, including 48 in the ICU and 29 on ventilators.

9:05 p.m.The Kansas City, Kansas school board voted Tuesday to move the start date of in-person classes to April. READ MORE

2:15 p.m. — Anticipated staffing shortages amid surging coronavirus cases could hit rural hospitals especially hard because smaller communities have more limited options for finding providers to cover for sick workers, medical providers say.

“We are doing what we can to make sure our staff are staying healthy and safe and able to be available to treat the community, but we also have heard that with post-holiday, this could be a challenge,” said Cindy Samuelson, senior vice president for the Kansas Hospital Association. “There is lots of potential for community spread.”

About 44{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the state’s hospitals on Monday were anticipating staffing shortages this week with an expected rise in COVID-19 cases following the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the association’s COVID-19 dashboard.

“I know that in some of our communities just keeping the providers healthy is something that is an intense focus,” Samuelson said. “We have rural communities where as that number gets higher and more and more of their providers get impacted, that takes them out of service and so this challenge of finding providers to cover is increasing.”

Kansas ranks 13th in the nation with 1,210 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data collected by the John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Five rural Kansas counties — Rush, Republic, Ellsworth, Rawlins and Kearny — rank in the top 25 counties in the nation with the most new cases per capita in the past 14 days.

If medical providers in rural areas get COVID-19 it “really puts small rural hospitals at risk” because options in small communities can be challenging and limited, Samuelson said.

Ben Kimball, a physician assistant at Graham County Hospital in Hill City in rural northwest Kansas, said he spent hours on the phone and had to make multiple calls to transfer out three COVID-19 patients and one without the virus from Friday through early Monday.

Two were flown to Kearny Regional Hospital in Nebraska, about 100 miles (160.93 kilometers) away, and the other two to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, about 275 miles (442.57 kilometers) away. One of the patients had to be put on a ventilator.

“We have always been able to send people to a place with an ICU or critical care services if we needed to,” he said. “I think we are are all kind of nervous that that ability is dwindling.”

The hospital normally has just three to six in-patients at a time and doesn’t have the staffing or equipment to handle more complex cases.

“We are small to begin with,” he said. “If we get a couple nurses out or aides out, that makes a difference.”

Even some larger hospitals are struggling with rising patient numbers and staffing challenges.

The intensive care unit and the COVID-19 ward at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center are both full and the hospital’s overflow COVID ward is nearly full, The Hutchinson News reported.

There were nine people on ventilators Tuesday morning, and the hospital is running out of specialized equipment for new patients, said Chuck Welch, the hospital’s vice president.

“We’re literally down to a handful of (ventilators) and a handful of beds,” Welch said. “We’re buying everything we can get hands on, but none are available. Shortages are extending past PPE to actual physical machinery.”

The hospital also faces staffing issues with a 35 employees under observation for COVID-19, including 12 who have tested positive and 23 others awaiting test results. More than a dozen are currently working from home.

“We have what I consider, per capita, one of the best health care teams in the region,” he said. “We have four pulmonologists and a team of hospitalists,” Welch said. “For a hospital with a community population of our size, we’re better off than many bigger cities. But that’s not going to help us if we don’t wear masks and distance ourselves. ”

11:15 a.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 2,929 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 302,691 since the pandemic began.

There have now been 4,006 deaths linked to COVID-19 in Missouri, which is up 177 from Monday’s reporting. However, the state health department said 138 were linked to new analysis of death certificates.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 3,089,100, and 102,707 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 19,716 positive cases, an average of 2,817 cases a day and 60 deaths in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 23,715 (+190) confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 17,660 (+524) cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 4,717 (+47) cases in Clay County, 3,815 (+54) in Cass County and 1,626 (+96) in Platte County.

10 a.m. — Johnson County reported Tuesday morning 24,522 (+165) cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, 4,562 cases in the last 14 days and 757 cases per 100,000 people in the county over the last 14 days.

The county said it has 15,707 (+202) presumed recoveries, 289 (+4) people have died, and 834 (+22) people have been hospitalized since the start of the outbreak.

Johnson County said it has tested 188,703 people with 164,181 tests coming back negative.

As of Tuesday, the school reopening gating criteria – the 14-day rolling total used by the county to make recommendations on how schools should reopen – remained in the red phase and the percent positivity moving average is at 14.5{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c}.

The county said 66{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the deaths in Johnson County have come from senior living facilities.

8 a.m. — Hospital and nursing officials fear that if COVID-19 cases continue unchecked there won’t be enough nurses to staff new hospital beds in the near future in the Kansas City metro area.

“All the things we were worried about could be possible in March, April and May are actually happening right now, and that should be scary for all of us,” said David Wild, vice president of performance improvement at the University of Kansas Health System.

Kansas health officials on Monday added 4,425 cases to the state’s pandemic tally since Friday, bringing the total to 157,446. Data showed that Kansas averaged 2,198 new confirmed and probable coronavirus a day for the seven days ending Monday. That is below the record average of 2,766 cases.

The number of COVID-19 related deaths also rose by 31 to 1,560.

It is too soon to see how Thanksgiving gatherings have impacted coronavirus numbers, but medical providers expect to see another rise in hospitalizations in 10 to 14 days once people begin showing symptoms.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported on Monday 87 new hospitalizations, bringing the total of hospitalizations to 5,105 since the start of the pandemic. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 227 coronavirus patients were in ICU units, with 39{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of ICU capacity remaining in Kansas.

High community spread means more nurses are liable to contract the disease, forcing them into quarantine. Child care also is an issue, says Kelly Sommers, state director of the Kansas State Nurses Association.

The Kansas Hospital Association’s dashboard on Friday showed 14 of the metro area’s 33 hospitals, or about 42{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c}, reporting they anticipated critical staff shortages in the following week, KCUR reported.

“The obvious answer is to get some temporary people, traveling nurses,” says Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System. “But they’re just not as available as they once were because everybody’s scrambling for the same folks.”

Health providers anticipate the need for more COVID-19 testing following the Thanksgiving holiday, as testing numbers have more than doubled since cases began rising again in the Kansas City area.

Hospitalization numbers were also back up Monday after stabilizing over the holiday weekend, said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease expert at the University of Kansas Health System. The hospital is now treating 102 active cases, of which 46 are in the intensive care unit and 30 are on ventilators, KCUR reported.

“It looks like social gatherings, not so much school, but those other places where people are getting together where they aren’t really necessarily wearing masks as they should be, distancing as they should be, is really a concern,” Hawkinson said.

Hawkinson recommended that anyone who traveled or celebrated in a group for the holiday should act as if they are infected by quarantining and getting tested.

7:30 a.m. — Wyandotte County is reporting Tuesday morning 10,961 (+32) confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, with 86 patients currently hospitalized and 399 probable cases. The county said 178 people have died from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak.

The county’s COVID-19 report indicates which ZIP codes have the most recent cases. Over a 14-day period, the 66102 ZIP code had 231 cases, followed by 66104 with 226, 66109 with 213 and 66106 with 177.

7 a.m. — The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track.

According to numbers from Tuesday morning, there have been 95,911 people who have recovered from the coronavirus.

This includes 15,505 in Johnson County, 7,950 in Wyandotte County, 3,165 in Leavenworth County, 3,582 in Douglas County and 753 in Miami County.

6 a.m. — The coronavirus pandemic largely hit urban areas first, but the autumn surge is devastating rural America, too. The U.S. is now averaging more than 170,000 new cases each day, and it’s taking a toll from the biggest hospitals down to the little ones in Kansas and Missouri, like Scotland County Hospital in Memphis, Missouri. READ MORE

[ CLICK HERE FOR MAPS OF COVID-19 CASES BY COUNTY IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

[ TRACKING COVID-19 CURVE OF CASES, DEATHS IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

MONDAY7:10 p.m. — The Kansas City Public Library’s Lucile H. Bluford Branch at 3050 Prospect Ave. will remain closed until further notice because a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

That staff member worked the week of Nov. 23 and the branch has been closed since Thursday for the Thanksgiving break.

4:30 p.m. — The Kansas City, Missouri Health Department said five businesses were closed for violating the city’s new COVID-19 restrictions. Health officials said the COVID-19 enforcement team visited 61 businesses over the weekend to monitor compliance with the mayor’s order. READ MORE

1:30 p.m. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page warned area residents Monday that the county is in “crisis mode” as COVID-19 cases keep rising and hospitals strain to treat new patients.

Page said area hospitals could run out of intensive care beds sometime this week and the National Guard could be asked to help with response to the pandemic.

“We are in a crisis mode and the virus is winning,” Page said.

On Sunday, the St. Louis region had 994 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with an average of 660 new cases per day. Area hospitals were using 77{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the total staffed beds and 89{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of their intensive care beds, according to the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.

Statewide, Missouri reported 2,498 COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Friday, with 27{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of inpatient beds still available, the latest hospitalization data available on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Missouri has reported 299,762 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,829 deaths since the pandemic began.

Page pleaded with residents to follow safety protocols to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

He said it was too early to tell if restrictions imposed two weeks ago, including a ban on indoor restaurant dining and limits to outdoor dining, are working. The restrictions are scheduled to end Dec. 15, but Page said they could be extended if needed.

“These next few weeks are going to test everyone’s mettle, everyone in the community,” he said. “We don’t want anymore restrictions, but we also don’t want our hospitals to be in a position of choosing who gets care.”

The strain on St. Louis-area hospitals prompted one doctor to start a petition to ask Gov. Mike Parson to impose a statewide ban, a move the Republican governor has consistently refused to consider.

Dr. Micah Luderer, an internal medicine resident at Barnes Jewish Hospital, said he started the petition after treating COVID-19 patients and watching his fellow doctors and nurses work to exhaustion, KMOV reported.

“We’re drowning at the hospital,” Luderer said. “People are dying every day from COVID-19 and we’re not doing everything in our power to stop the virus.”

Missouri is one of 13 states without a mask mandate. Parson has said since the beginning of the pandemic that he favors allowing county officials to decide what restrictions should be imposed.

Luderer’s petition had more than 4,100 signatures on Monday. Luderer said he has emailed the 10 largest colleges and universities in Missouri asking for faculty and students to sign it. He plans to submit the petition to the governor’s office this week.

12:30 p.m. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 4,425 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Friday, pushing the statewide total to 157,446 since the outbreak started.

KDHE officials said Monday the death total grew by 31 to 1,560 and hospitalizations increased by 87 to 5,105 since the outbreak started.

The average median age of the deaths is 80, which is steady from last week’s reporting.

Health officials said Monday that 39{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of ICU beds are available and 76{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the state’s ventilators are available.

The state said it has tested 822,884 people with 665,438 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 18.4{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c}.

[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]

Sedgwick County continues to have the highest confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak with 27,966. Johnson County is second with 27,420 cases. Wyandotte County is third with 11,528 cases.

Leavenworth County has 3,817 cases, and Douglas County now reports 4,653. The Douglas County case count is largely tied to increases at the University of Kansas.

Health officials said the median age of people with COVID-19 is 39, and they are monitoring 517 active outbreak clusters with 209 clusters reported in long-term care facilities.

11:15 a.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 3,829 new confirmed cases on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 299,762 since the pandemic began.

There have now been 3,829 deaths linked to COVID-19 in Missouri, which is up six from Sunday’s reporting.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 3,076,377, and 100,677 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 18,924 positive cases, an average of 2,703 cases a day and 53 deaths in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 23,525 (+315) confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 17,136 (+243) cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 4,670 (+87) cases in Clay County, 3,815 (+94) in Cass County and 1,626 (+64) in Platte County.

10:30 a.m. — Several school districts across the metro area made the decision to send students back home for remote learning, starting this week, as COVID-19 cases continue to climb. Shawnee Mission schools, along with the two other largest districts in Johnson County, Kansas, Olathe and Blue Valley, won’t be returning to classes until 2021. Students are expected to remain in an online-only format through at least the end of the semester. READ MORE

10 a.m. — Johnson County reported Monday morning 24,357 cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, 4,634 cases in the last 14 days and 769 cases per 100,000 people in the county over the last 14 days.

The county said it has 15,505 presumed recoveries, 285 people have died, and 812 people have been hospitalized since the start of the outbreak.

Johnson County said it has tested 188,161 people with 163,804 tests coming back negative.

As of Monday, the school reopening gating criteria – the 14-day rolling total used by the county to make recommendations on how schools should reopen – remained in the red phase and the percent positivity moving average is at 14.4{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c}.

The county said it is monitoring 47 outbreaks at senior living care facilities. It also said that 192 people from senior living care facilities have died, which is 67{4deaea03d78349d2462fb96996a246ea5d0077172a16867ed072c7a64f0a268c} of the deaths in Johnson County.

9:30 a.m. — The University of Kansas Health Systems said Monday it is treating 152 total COVID-19 patients in its hospitals. Of those patients, 102 are active and acute patients, while 50 are listed as recovering. There are 46 patients in the ICU and 30 are on ventilators.

9 a.m. — Small rural hospitals in Kansas and Missouri are increasingly spending hours searching for facilities they can transfer patients to because they are struggling to cope with the surge in coronavirus cases.

As the region’s hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients, smaller hospitals like the one in Holton, Kansas, are finding it difficult to treat patients who don’t have the disease but still need care.

“People don’t just stop having heart attacks or those sorts of things,” said Carrie Saia, CEO of the hospital in Holton, which is about 30 miles north of Topeka, Kansas. “I just worry that we’re going to be so consumed that we’re not really able to care for some emergency that comes in.”

The urban and rural health care systems in Missouri and Kansas are intertwined, with smaller hospitals identifying which patients need more advanced care and transferring them to larger facilities in bigger cities, The Kansas City Star reported.

But lately, smaller hospitals have been spending hours searching for beds for their patients in larger facilities in places such as Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield, Missouri.

When COVID-19 patients stress the capacity of smaller hospitals, it makes it harder to care for patients with heart attacks, strokes or other serious conditions.

“Those patients, when they come through our doors, honestly that’s a little more scary than COVID,” said Valarie Davis who is the administrator of Mercy’s smaller hospitals in Cassville and Aurora, Missouri. “We have to get them somewhere as quick as we possibly can.”

And rural hospital administrators increasingly worry about how the surge in patients is affecting their nurses and doctors.

“I’ve had one of the nurses literally break down right in front of me because of her concern for one of the patients, which is a wonderful thing but it takes a toll on the staff,” said Dennis Franks, CEO of the 25-bed Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute, Kansas. “They’re working a lot.”

7:30 a.m. — Wyandotte County is reporting Monday morning 10,929 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, with 86 patients currently hospitalized and 398 probable cases. The county said 178 people have died from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak.

The county’s COVID-19 report indicates which ZIP codes have the most recent cases. Over a 14-day period, the 66102 ZIP code had 259 cases, followed by 66104 with 241, 66109 with 236 and 66106 with 189.

7 a.m. — The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track.

According to numbers from Monday morning, there have been 91,213 people who have recovered from the coronavirus.

This includes 15,322 in Johnson County, 7,950 in Wyandotte County, 2,950 in Leavenworth County, 3,456 in Douglas County and 753 in Miami County.

6 a.m. — The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in the St. Louis area set another new record Sunday even as the most-recent statewide hospitalization numbers declined slightly.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said the seven-day average of new patients in the area increased by 13 to 897 Sunday to set a record for the third day in a row. The data includes patients from BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital facilities in the St. Louis area. READ MORE

[ CLICK HERE FOR MAPS OF COVID-19 CASES BY COUNTY IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

[ TRACKING COVID-19 CURVE OF CASES, DEATHS IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

READ THE FULL STORY:COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES: Missouri reports 3,998 new coronavirus cases on Thursday

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