More than 1,000 people have now died of COVID-19 in the bi-state St. Louis area.
The region surpassed the grim milestone late this week, about 90 days since a St. Louis County woman became the first in the metro area to die of the illness caused by the coronavirus.
St. Louis County alone accounts for about half of the deaths, though it makes up around a third of the region’s population. St. Louis and St. Clair County each has seen more than 100 of their residents die of COVID-19.
Other counties in the metro area include St. Charles, Jefferson, Franklin, Lincoln and Warren counties in Missouri, and Madison, Clinton, Monroe and Jersey counties in Illinois.
The coronavirus has disproportionately affected Black St. Louisans, who make up almost two-thirds of the deaths in the city despite accounting for just under half of the population. In St. Louis County, Black residents comprise about a quarter of the population but make up about 45% of COVID-19 deaths.
Black residents have long had less access to health care providers, jobs and education in the region. African Americans also are more likely to have pre-existing health conditions that can make them more susceptible to serious cases of COVID-19.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, which includes the metro area’s four largest health care providers, reports that COVID-19 hospitalizations are decreasing.
But elsewhere in Missouri, the rate of new coronavirus cases is rising, particularly in counties outside the state’s two major metro areas, St. Louis and Kansas City. The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in those areas has roughly doubled since mid-May.
Missouri also could reach the milestone of 1,000 deaths soon. More than 950 people statewide were reported to have died of COVID-19 by Friday morning. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson lifted all statewide restrictions this week.
St. Louis and St. Louis County have also loosened testing requirements to allow all residents who want one to qualify for a coronavirus test.
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