CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - Weeks after the faster-spreading U.K. variant of the coronavirus was found in 15 Missouri wastewater systems, new testing has found it only in one.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has been testing wastewater across the state for clues about the spread of COVID-19. The latest results, released Tuesday, found that testing could be done only at 10 wastewater systems in Missouri because of declining levels of COVID-19 particles.
Of the 10 tested, only the Coldwater Creek system in St. Louis County indicated the presence of the U.K. variant, the health department said.
Testing in February found 15 of 23 systems tested across Missouri showed evidence of the U.K. variant, which was first detected in the U.S. in December.
The state on Wednesday listed 449 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and two new deaths. Missouri has reported 481,694 confirmed cases and 8,297 deaths since the pandemic began.
Health experts in Kansas City are raising concerns about the race and ethnicity data provided by the state on COVID-19 vaccinations for Black and Latino residents.
Kansas City health officials told KCUR that the data presented by the state health department on who has been getting shots is incomplete and fails to inform the public or guide vaccination efforts.
“It’s actually maddening and extremely frustrating that this isn’t a transparent process, and we’re left here piecing together information when all we’re trying to do is to preserve human life,” Kansas City Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, who serves as executive director of the Black Health Care Coalition, said.
The state’s COVID-19 website provides vaccination data broken down by race and ethnicity. But Kansas City officials say the data is full of gaps.
“When you have all these unknowns, when you have suspicion that the data is even being reported accurately, why do you put it on a website when you know it’s not true?” asked Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City Health Department.
Archer said several aspects of the data make it unreliable. For example, ethnicity data, which identifies whether someone is Hispanic, is provided for less than 17% of people who received shots. Meanwhile, racial data is missing for about a quarter of the more than 1 million Missouri residents who have received shots.
Missouri health department spokeswoman Lisa Cox said that the department’s data team was “working to make this info more available.”
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