- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2020

O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) - Missouri’s health department reported nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, along with a positivity rate that remains alarmingly high.

The dashboard for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services showed 183,186 COVID-19 cases, a rise of 2,986 from Friday. The death toll for the pandemic has topped 3,000. The dashboard shows 3,024 deaths. Missouri reported the seventh highest tally of deaths in the nation over the past seven days - 104.

Meanwhile, Missouri’s positivity rate of 13.9% is nearly triple the benchmark set by the World Health Organization for reopening. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson allowed the state to reopen in mid-June, without statewide mask or social distancing requirements, though several local jurisdictions have implemented their own laws.

Numbers are rising sharply in the St. Louis area. St. Louis County reported 505 new cases Friday, the most since July 30.

Dr. Alex Garza, leader of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said the region faces an “extremely dangerous situation.”

“Our numbers are really alarming, and the window of opportunity to turn the tide is rapidly closing,” Garza said at a Friday briefing. With each passing day, it gets harder and harder to imagine a path where the health care systems will not become overwhelmed.”

Most of the region’s largest hospitals are already at around 90% capacity and 90% intensive care unit capacity, even before the onset of the flu season.

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