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This article free to all readers because it includes information important to public safety and health in our community.

Missouri continued to report record numbers of coronavirus cases over the weekend and the rate of positive cases remains high across the state.

On Saturday, the state reported a record 2,357 new cases of COVID-19, according to its online virus tracker. Sunday's increase of 1,768 cases was smaller but still substantial. The state now has 156,696 cases of the virus and 2,582 deaths since the pandemic began.

The state said the positivity rate for coronavirus tests over the last seven days is 19.7%, and six counties reported rates above 50%. The counties with positivity rates over 50% are Holt, New Madrid, Osage, Stoddard, Dekalb and Moniteau counties. Holt County led the state with a positivity rate of 63.2%.

Gov. Mike Parson has refused to require mask wearing in Missouri, and the state loosened most virus restrictions in mid June.

The state's rate of new cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks registered at 399.55 and ranked tenth-highest among all the states on Saturday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Missouri has risen over the past two weeks from 1,298.71 new cases per day on Oct. 3 to 1,528.29 new cases per day on Saturday.

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