Missouri virus cases tick upward after months of decline

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri’s rate of new coronavirus cases is ticking upward after months of decline.

The state’s coronavirus infection rate has tumbled since the fall, when Missouri hit a peak seven-day average of 4,723 new confirmed cases on Nov. 20. That average fell as low as 343 on March 6 but has since edged upward, to 395 on Friday.

“It’s a vulnerable time, and we need to continue to use all methods available to contain this disease, at this point,” said Dr. Sriram Vissa, chief medical officer at SSM Health DePaul Hospital.

On Monday, 550,000 more Missourians will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, when the state opens its vaccines to a group that includes teachers, some government workers, water and energy services employees, agriculture workers and childcare workers, among others.

But Dr. Alex Garza, the head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, cautioned in a briefing last week that many area hospitals were still working to vaccinate everyone in the current tier — older adults and first responders, for instance — before moving into the next group.

Mayor Lyda Krewson said on Friday that 115,000 city residents were eligible now. But only 35,800 have received a first dose, according to state data.

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