Parson says positive COVID-19 rate down as testing increases

But cases have started to climb again since reopen
Virus Outbreak Testing coronavirus
Posted at 4:02 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 17:28:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday said the rate of positive COVID-19 cases in Missouri has declined as testing has increased across the state.

Currently, the rate of positivity identified through community testing is 6.5%, down from about 10% earlier during the pandemic, Parson said at a briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

Of course, those claims come two weeks after the state was caught inflating its testing numbers by combining antibody tests with COVID-19 tests, something several other states had been chastised for even by Misssouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams.

In addition, Parson said he’s encouraged by the rate of hospitalization for the virus, which he said has dropped about 40% over the last month.

“That is very good news for all of us,” Parson said. “Our hospitals are not overwhelmed. Our positive rate continues to decline. People are recovering and we are moving forward.”

Williams said he attributed the decline in hospitalization rates to prevention efforts and “getting ahead of it on the front end.”

“A month into this, we are not seeing a reemergence of widespread community transmission, which we’re incredibly thankful for here in Missouri,” Williams said.

Despite Williams' assertion, the number of positive cases in Missouri has increased in recent weeks, according to analysis from 41 Action News.

The number of positive cases in the state rose 8% for the week of May 16-22 compared to the week before and COVID-19 cases jumped another 16% last week, rising from 1,043 to 1,126 to 1,302 new cases each week during that span.

This week, there have been at least 215 new cases added Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, marking the first time since April 14-16 that local and county health officials have announced at least 200 new cases of the virus for three consecutive days.

Parson said Wednesday that he’s not currently considering accelerating the state’s move into the second phase of reopening, which is currently set for June 15.

The governor has said Phase 2 “will be more open,” though there are currently no statewide restrictions on gathering limits and businesses have been able to reopen.

Parson said that much of the state’s continued recovery will depend on how much testing availability can be increased.

“Testing is so important for the future of our state,” Parson said. “To get the economy back, to get people back to work, to get their businesses open, it will all rely on testing.”

Williams said Tuesday that the state completed a record 11,000 tests in one day last week. Currently, the state is averaging more than 8,000 tests per day, according to Parson.

The state has already completed community testing in Jackson, Boone and St. Charles counties amond more than a dozen Missouri counties. Community testing will be completed this week in Jefferson, Greene and Cape Girardeau counties, Parson said.

Williams also said at the briefing on Wednesday that Camden County has not identified any additional positive COVID-19 cases through contact tracing done after one person tested positive for the virus after visiting the Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend. The incubation period of the virus is up to two weeks.