CoronavirusFeaturedNewsThe NorthSider

Most coronavirus deaths in Missouri involving older people

(AP) — Older people have been far more likely to die worldwide from the coronavirus, and statistics from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services show that Missouri is no exception.

The health department has cited 39 fatalities from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. The toll rose by five Monday. The department also cited 2,722 confirmed cases, up 355, or 15 percent, from Sunday.

Eleven of the 39 Missouri residents who have died were age 80 or older, and 14 were in their 70s. Seven were in their 60s and five in their 50s. Just two of the 39 deaths confirmed by the state involved people younger than 50.

The actual number of deaths in Missouri may be significantly higher. A database operated by Johns Hopkins University shows 65 deaths in Missouri. The discrepancy could be because Missouri just recently changed its policy to require that coronavirus deaths be reported within 24 hours.

Authorities reported on Tuesday the first death of a state prison inmate from the coronavirus. Officials in St. Joseph said a man in his 50s from the Kansas City area was the first inmate in the state to test positive for COVID-19. He was last held in the Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in St. Joseph. His name was not released.

Nursing homes have been severely impacted in Missouri, especially Frontier Health & Rehabilitation in St. Charles. At that center, 35 residents and seven workers have tested positive since the outbreak was first reported March 23, and test results are still pending for 14 others. Three residents of the nursing home have died from COVID-19.

Frontier houses 113 patients, most of them elderly, who are recovering from medical procedures. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch cited inspection reports in which the nursing home received poor reviews after federal inspectors allegedly observed nurses clean residents, change the patients’ clothing and deposit the soiled clothing without the caretakers’ washing their hands.

Most infected people develop mild or moderate coronavirus symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up within three weeks. But older adults and people with existing health problems are particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia.

State lawmakers are convening Tuesday and Wednesday. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, needs their approval to spend what could amount to billions of dollars in federal funding for medical supplies, local governments and other services to fight the virus.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has forced businesses to close across the U.S., leaving normally busy roadways with little traffic. The Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol said they were seeing an increase in speeding and reckless driving as a result of the lower traffic volume.

Last week, Transportation Department vehicles were struck three times by drivers, the agency said.

“Please do your part to make our roadways safer and not add to the workload of our already overburdened healthcare providers,” Transportation Department highway safety and traffic engineer Nicole Hood said in a statement.

The pandemic doesn’t mean that state troopers will look the other way, officials said.

“Our law enforcement partners are continuing to enforce the rules of the road, and they will ticket you for traffic violations,” Hood said.

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