ST. LOUIS (AP) — Confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri prisons have spiked more than 50 percent so far this month, an increase a spokeswoman attributes to heightened testing.
There have been 333 new cases among prisoners and Department of Corrections staff so far this month, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Previously, the prison system reported 661 cases cumulatively.
Prisons in Bonne Terre and Pacific saw the biggest spikes.
Confirmed cases increased to 232 as of Tuesday from 105 on Aug. 1 at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre. At the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific, cases rose to 163 from 108.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann attributed the rise in reported cases to an increase in testing.
Pojmann said all inmates and staff had been tested for COVID-19 at least once. She said that many patients were asymptomatic and that mass testing identified most cases in prisons.
Statewide, there have been 71,733 confirmed cases of the virus, according to cumulative data updated Thursday.
Hospitalizations increased from 875 Sunday to 921 Monday, the most recent data available through the state health department.
Considerably fewer people are now dying from the virus in Missouri compared with its peak in April and May, when the daily death tolls were in the double digits. Another three people were reported as dying from the virus Thursday. In total, 1,417 deaths in the state have been attributed to the virus.
The virus also continues to cripple businesses. The owner of four St. Louis-area malls said Wednesday that it planned to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by Oct. 1. The company, CBL & Associates Properties based in Chattanooga, Tenn., owns West County Center, St. Clair Square, Mid Rivers Mall and South County Center.
Most of the Missouri State University swim team is in quarantine after one athlete tested positive for the virus, the Springfield News-Leader reported.