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Hospitalizations declining in St. Louis; new concerns in KC

Hospitalizations due to the coronavirus have reached their lowest level since mid-April in the St. Louis area, the region of Missouri hit hardest by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, an outbreak at a senior living facility and a rise in cases in Kansas City are threatening to slow the next phase of that city’s reopening.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said Thursday that 596 people diagnosed with or believed to have COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, were hospitalized Thursday, the lowest number since April 11. The number of people in intensive care units and using ventilators also is declining.

The task force said the seven-day average for hospitalizations was 646, down from a peak of 706 on April 21.

About half of Missouri’s 9,341 confirmed cases, and two-thirds of the 418 deaths, have occurred in St. Louis city and county. While most of Missouri reopened non-essential businesses starting Monday, stay-at-home orders remain in effect in St. Louis city and county until May 18.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up after two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The Kansas City Star  reported that an outbreak of cases at a senior living facility has officials reconsidering whether to allow restaurants, bars and other large facilities to reopen next week.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said public health officials are testing residents and staff at McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff, where seven residents and four staff members tested positive. The facility is home to 80 residents.

Kansas City Health Department Director Rex Archer said he thought the city had “more cases this week than we’ve had any other week since this outbreak started.”

Lucas said the Health Department had planned to issue guidance Friday for the reopening of restaurants, bars, gyms, museums, the Kansas City Zoo, city-operated playgrounds and government buildings. Now, he said, it’s unclear whether those businesses can reopen as scheduled on May 15.

Catholic parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis can resume public masses starting May 18, Archbishop Robert Carlson said Thursday night. Public masses have been suspended within the archdiocese since March 16.

The decision will be left up to each individual parish pastor, according to a news release.

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