State of emergency extended as virus hits Missouri hospitals

Associated Press
In this Oct. 25, 2020, file photo, Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson speaks in Lees Summit, Mo.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday extended Missouri's state of emergency through March as hospitals struggled to keep up with a rise in coronavirus cases.

Although there are sufficient beds for patients, the hospitals don't have enough staff to treat the increasing number of sick people, Parson said.

The state is considering sending in the military and asking for help from medical workers in other states to supplement hospital staffing, he said.

Coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations are all up.

According to data from the state health department, 27,358 new virus infections were reported in the past week. That's more than 3,900 new cases a day on average.

For context, Parson said more new cases were reported in October than during the first eight months of the pandemic in Missouri, and new cases in November have already surpassed October.

At least 67 people died from the virus in the past week.

Roughly a quarter of coronavirus tests came back positive in the past week, and 2,629 patients suffering from the virus were hospitalized as of Tuesday.

The Missouri Hospital Association has asked Parson to require face masks across the state to help curb the virus and ease the burden on hospitals, Jefferson City's KRCG-TV reported.

The governor on Thursday again refused to do so.

Instead, he repeated his emphasis on personal responsibility and called on Missourians to do their part by wearing masks, social distancing and washing their hands. He said Thanksgiving should be different this year as families adjust plans to protect each other.

“It’s up to every one of us to decide whether ... we’re going to take the personal responsibility to slow this virus down,” Parson said.

Parson said his administration planned to send guidance to local governments on Thursday and would urge local leaders to take action to curb the virus' spread.