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Southeast Missouri seeing big uptick in COVID-19 cases

Missouri’s surge in COVID-19 cases appears to be moving to the Bootheel region of the state, with hospitals in southeast Missouri filling with patients, many of them critically ill.

Meanwhile, the state health department on Tuesday reported 170 additional deaths, bringing to 10,376 the number of Missourians who have succumbed to the virus since the onset of the pandemic.

Southwestern Missouri has been the epicenter of this summer’s outbreak of COVID-19. But since the delta variant of the virus began its rampage in June, cases have spread across the state.

Information on Missouri’s COVID-19 dashboard shows that six of the 12 counties with the highest seven-day rates of new cases are in the southeast — Scott, New Madrid, Mississippi, Madison, Jackson and Perry counties.

Cape Girardeau’s two hospitals are treating a combined 76 COVID-19 patients, including 24 in intensive care units, according to information from St. Francis Medical Center and Southeast Hospital.

Statewide, of the 170 newly reported deaths, 143 were the result of a weekly review of death certificates. The state health department said one of those deaths was in May, two were in June, 35 were in July and 105 were earlier in August. The state also cited 27 new deaths, and 1,770 newly confirmed cases. Missouri has reported 618,022 COVID-19 cases overall.

A central Missouri mayor meanwhile sought support for his push to allow a friend to be given an anti-parasite drug not approved for treating COVID-19.

The Kansas City Star reported that Lake Ozark Mayor Dennis Newberry wrote on Facebook Monday that his friend should be allowed to take ivermectin in a last-ditch effort to save him.

“Please pray for cooperation from his caregivers and hospital admin to allow his loved ones and friends to step in and assist with his life. If we do nothing his life will surely be taken from his 18 year old son, his family and friends,” Newberry wrote. “I need your prayers and comments to attempt to gain favor with the powers to be.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved ivermectin to treat some parasitic worms and for head lice and skin conditions in humans, and other preparations of the drug are used to treat and prevent parasites in horses. The FDA has not approved ivermectin for treating or preventing COVID-19.

By Tuesday morning, Newberry’s post had been removed. It wasn’t immediately clear why and a phone message left with Newberry wasn’t immediately returned.

An estimated 300,000 people attended the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia over the 10-day period that ended Sunday, but just 53 took advantage of an on-site COVID-19 vaccination clinic, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Masks were not required at the fair. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“Obviously we’d love to have vaccinated 1,000 people,” Pettis County Health Administrator JoAnn Martin told the Post-Dispatch. “But we are glad we made the effort.”

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