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Missouri governor: 60 percent of fast-growing COVID-19 cases coming from three regions

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Gov. Mike Parson said Tuesday that a few areas of the state are responsible for most of the record growth in Missouri's COVID-19 cases but continued to urge residents to take measure against the spread of coronavirus.

Missouri logged 936 new cases Tuesday, breaking the old record of 795 set Thursday. The state's average for new cases has been trending up and hospitalizations are about 50 away from their peak of 984 recorded in early May.

About 60 percent of those record new cases came from the St. Louis and Kansas City areas and an area of southwest Missouri experiencing an outbreak.

Many of the new cases are also in young people, Parson said.

"We need young people to take this virus seriously," Parson said during his regular COVID-19 briefing in the Capitol. Young, healthy people who are at lower risk of serious complications from the novel coronavirus can still spread the virus to older people or those with underlying health problems, he said.

Watch a replay of the briefing below.

Parson opened his briefing with a discussion of the state's COVID-19 numbers, which came out about an hour before the event.

Parson said despite the increase in cases and hospitalizations the state is "in a good place." Missourians should continue to seek routine medical care, he said.

Hospital intensive care units remain below capacity and the state has plenty of ventilators on hand, Parson said.

The governor stressed that the state must find ways to keep people healthy while continuing the economy's reopening.

"It is a balancing act between public health and economic recovery," Parson said. "You cannot have one without the other and we will do everything we can to keep Missourians safe and healthy while still getting our economy back on track."

Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the state is averaging about 500 new cases daily. While that number is much lower than Tuesday's increase, it remains a sign of growing infections, he said.

Williams said the state has learned enough about the virus, including tactics for "boxing in" outbreaks, that economic recovery is possible while the pandemic continues. The increase in hospitalizations has not yet strained the system, but more increases combined with hospitals taking on more elective surgeries could cause problems in the future, he said.

"At end of the day, what we’re most interested in is beds, ICUs and ventilators, and right now we’re good," Williams said.

However, the state will keep a close eye on hospitalizations, he said. Williams also emphasized that hospitalizations lag two to three weeks behind new cases.

Parson defends conduct at cattle association dinner

Parson has been scrutinized since Saturday for not wearing a mask and apparent lack of social distancing at a Missouri Cattle Association event in Sedalia.

Parson, when asked about why he did not wear a mask and practice social distancing, said wearing a face covering is an individual choice and that he tries to maintain social distance but sometimes cannot.

Parson said he was "not perfect."

The governor said masks were caught up in a political debate and reiterated that he will not mandate their wear statewide.

"Missouri’s totally different," Parson said of a statewide face covering mandate. "There are still a lot of counties out there that don’t have a problem whatsoever with COVID-19."

Williams said during the briefing that about half of the state's counties have recorded fewer than 30 COVID-19 cases.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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