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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri topped 2,000 on Friday, with the state's hardest-hit county taking new measures to try and slow the spread of the pandemic.
The state health department reported Friday that Missouri has had 2,113 confirmed cases, including 279 more than it had on Thursday. The state's death toll remained unchanged at 19.
Missouri remains one of just 10 states without a statewide stay-at-home mandate, despite calls from many politicians and medical leaders for Republican Gov. Mike Parson to issue one.
Parson has asked the public to avoid going out unnecessarily and has stressed that it's up to individuals to act responsibly. But he has cited the low number of coronavirus cases in many counties, especially rural areas, as the reason for declining to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. He did prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people effective March 23.
Despite Parson's refusal to issue an order, a majority of Missouri residents are under stay-at-home rules because of local orders, including most of the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, Springfield, Columbia and many other places.
In St. Louis County, the site of nearly 800 confirmed cases and seven deaths, officials warned about four dozen businesses to stop violating closure orders. Those businesses deemed non-essential include hobby shops, tanning salons, restaurants and others.
The county also announced it was closing all parks out of concerns that people were congregating in large numbers.
"With warmer weather, our parks are becoming more and more crowded," St. Louis County Parks Director Tom Ott said in a statement. "During this health crisis, we cannot allow large groups of people to be together in one place."
At least 27 long-term care facilities in Missouri have at least one resident or employee who has tested positive for the coronavirus, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. State officials are declining to release information about the impacted facilities, but local health officials have confirmed the deaths of five residents at a Springfield assisted living facility and three residents at a St. Charles nursing home.
Six other nursing homes, senior-living and long-term care facilities in the St. Louis area have reported residents or staff testing positive for COVID-19, which is particularly dangerous to older adults.
This article was updated at 2:40 p.m. April 3, 2020, with new information.