(AP) — The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri had its biggest one-day increase, jumping by more than 400 Friday and claiming 16 more lives.
Data from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which has been tracking cases worldwide, showed 418 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total to 5,560. The number of deaths rose to 170, up from 154 on Thursday.
In just the past week, the number of deaths in Missouri has increased by 78, and 1,936 new cases have been confirmed.
The latest figures come a day after Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, extended his statewide stay-at-home order through May 3, with plans to begin a phased-in approach to reopening businesses starting May 4.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County have all extended their stay-at-home orders through at least mid-May.
The high percentage of black residents who have been sickened and died from the coronavirus “shines a spotlight” on racial inequities in the St. Louis region and elsewhere, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, a Democrat, said.
Data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services show that 34 percent of deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, have involved black people, 40 percent white people and the race was unknown for 23 percent of victims. Blacks make up about 11.5 percent of Missouri’s population.
In St. Louis County, 54 percent of those who have died were black. About 24 percent of county residents are black.
“We’ve seen the virus hit extraordinarily hard in our African-American communities, not just here locally but across the country,” Page said at a news conference Friday. “We need to stop the inequities in the provision of health care in our underserved communities.”
“This COVID-19 virus shines a spotlight on those inequities,” Page said.
St. Louis County is nearing completion of a temporary morgue, in case the coronavirus causes more deaths than the current morgue can handle.
County spokesman Benjamin Granda said the “Dignified Transfer Center” was being built in a 29,000-square-foot building near the Missouri River. It could hold as many as 1,300 bodies, though no projections show the county reaching that number.
The permanent morgue is a one-story building in Berkeley, with a capacity of 20 bodies. State law requires the county medical examiner to investigate the cause of some deaths, including those from a disease that is thought to be hazardous or contagious.
Sixty-six people in St. Louis County have died from the coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University website.
BROADBAND FOR RURAL AREAS
Parson announced about $3 million in grants would go toward bringing broadband to 4,400 homes, businesses and farms without high-speed internet, which he called “essential infrastructure in the modern economy, especially during these challenging times.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission, nearly 600,000 rural Missourians lack access to high-speed internet. The broadband grant was established by the Legislature in 2018.