GENERIC: Missouri coronavirus, COVID-19

KANSAS CITY, MO (AP) — Confirmed coronavirus cases are on the rise in Missouri, with triple-digit increases for three straight days in the Kansas City metropolitan areas, according to state health department data.

The 290 new cases reported Thursday amount to the biggest single-day increase in Missouri since May 4, and the average number of new cases has been steadily increasing during the past three weeks, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The number of new cases had been dropping since May 7, with a low of 135 on May 17, before the increase in positive test results resumed.

Missouri's top health official, Dr. Randall Williams, said improved testing capacity of up to 12,000 tests a day might partly account for the increase but that other factors could be involved.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson allowed the state to reopen May 5, with restrictions such as 6-foot social distancing and limits on capacity for many businesses and organizations. The second phase of reopening, which had been scheduled to begin May 31, was pushed back to June 15 due to the resurgence in cases.

Health officials are paying close attention to the Kansas City metropolitan area, which recorded its third straight day of triple-digit increase in cases Thursday.

Williams said health officials will be breaking down the figures in the Kansas City area to see if other factors require more vigilance.

The Kansas City metropolitan area, which includes two Kansas counties, reported 133 new cases Thursday. Kansas City had 71 of those cases, with 20 in Jackson County, four in Clay County and two in Platte County. A total of 36 new cases were recorded in nearby Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.

The Kansas City metropolitan area has reported a total of 4,684 confirmed cases.

Missouri had 14,057 coronavirus cases as of Thursday, with at least 786 deaths.

The coronavirus causes mild symptoms for most people but others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can suffer more severe illnesses.

Many nursing homes have been hit hard by the coronavirus, and a federal report issued Thursday said at least 253 nursing home residents and one employee in Missouri have died from complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

More than 1,100 residents of nursing homes in the state and 367 employees have tested positive for the virus since Jan. 1, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The report noted that some Missouri nursing homes have not reported any cases, including 94 of 522 federally financed facilities. The report also doesn't include data from assisted living centers, retirement communities and other types of residential facilities for older adults that are not certified by the federal agency.

That reporting criteria is different for the state, which has counted at least 176 long-term care facilities with at least one COVID-19 case.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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