Kansas City area tops 1,000 deaths from COVID-19

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City area has reached an unwanted milestone: Coronavirus deaths in the region have now topped 1,000.

The Kansas City Star reports that nine new deaths cited Thursday brought the total since the onset of the pandemic to 1,003. The number includes Kansas City, Missouri, as well as its suburbs in Missouri and Kansas.

Missouri overall has reported 3,809 deaths from COVID-19, including one new one reported Friday. The state also reported 3,273 new confirmed cases, bringing the state's total to 290,536 since the pandemic began.

“My heart breaks for the thousand from Kansas City and the region who have lost their lives and the tens of thousands more — relatives; coworkers; and friends — whose lives will be touched forever by this terrible disease,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a statement to the newspaper.

The University of Kansas Health System said its hospital has had 119 deaths, with the average age of the victims 64. David Wild, vice president of performance improvement at the health system, said 16% had no underlying conditions.

“Our neighbors died because of bureaucratic red tape, bravado, ill preparation, and our own communal self-interest favoring normalcy over safety of others,” Lucas said in his statement. “In the long term, may we learn tough lessons from COVID so that we never repeat these mistakes again. In the short term, may people resolve to chip in even in modest ways by wearing masks, washing their hands, and protecting others by staying at home and away from large gatherings.”

On the other side of the state, researchers at St. Louis University say preliminary evidence from a study suggests how effective masks can be, St. Louis Public Radio reported.

Epidemiologists at the university said the rate of coronavirus cases significantly decreased in St. Louis and St. Louis County after government officials in July began requiring people to wear masks in public.

Researchers compared data in the city and county to three neighboring counties without mask mandates — St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin. Preliminary findings show that three weeks after the mask mandate, St. Louis city and county infection rates were 44% lower than those of the other counties.

Missouri does not have a statewide mask mandate but several hospital and political leaders have urged Republican Gov. Mike Parson to require face coverings to slow the spread of the virus. Parson has steadfastly refused to do so but has urged Missourians to take personal responsibility.