Is Missouri "turning a corner" in its COVID-19 fight, as Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday?
While there are some encouraging numbers, we're not ready to go that far. The biggest reason: Missouri has the fourth-highest rate of new cases in the nation.
That statistic alone indicates we're not turning a corner. But, while more new cases are turning up in Missouri than most other states, we're also seeing a steep decline in death rates.
As we reported Wednesday, Parson said that in April and May, more than 7 percent of observed COVID-19 cases were fatal. That has dropped to a scant .3 percent so far this month.
That's likely a reflection of our ability to identify more positive cases as well as our ability to treat the virus.
That red-zone report from the White House moves Missouri up three spots from the last report Sept. 6, according to KMIZ-TV 17.
The biggest culprit: young adults. As we reported Wednesday, the age group with the most new positive cases remains 18- to 24-year-olds.
St. Louis County, Jackson County (Kansas City area) and Green County (Springfield area) account for 36.4 percent of the new cases.
So what more can we do to prevent the virus' spread?
The first recommendation in the White House report is to require masks in metro areas and counties with COVID-19 cases among students or teachers in K-12.
Many of Missouri's metro areas already have mask ordinances, but many counties with COVID-19 cases in the schools do not.
Here in Jefferson City, the virus has already posed a problem at various schools, and Cole County has no mask ordinance.
Many of the other recommendations are aimed at university settings. They include increasing testing capacity, requiring higher ed institutions to have a plan for rapid testing/contact tracing and recruit college and university students to expand public health messaging and contact tracing capacity. Mask wearing and off-campus social distancing must occur, the report said.
Our state has increased its testing capacity, but right now, it's imperative schools, especially universities, enforce their mask/social distancing rules. Meanwhile, the state needs to focus on the university hotspots to ramp up testing capacity and quicken contact tracing.