(KMOX)-Coronavirus cases continue to set records in Missouri and Illinois. On Friday, Missouri reported 2,017 new cases and 17 new deaths. It reached a new high water mark with 1,443 coronavirus victims in hospitals. The state's death toll is now 2,459.
Illinois reported 4,554 new cases, topping the previous high of 4,015 set on Thursday. It also reported 38 new deaths Friday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 9,165. The Department of Public Health says part of the reason for the increase in positive cases is an increase in testing, up more than five percent across the state.
The IDPH says 32 counties are in the warning level for COVID-19 spread. They include Monroe, Randolph, Clinton and Washington in the metro east.
"It's been a somewhat sobering week," says St. Louis Metropolitan Task Force Incident Commander, Dr. Alex Garza. "We seem to have retreated from all the progress we made in September."
Last month, the region's daily hospital admission averages were in the 30's, Garza says. Now the seven-day average is back above 40, with a spike of more than 60 on Friday.
"While we don't pay much attention to those one-day spikes," Garza says, "you can't ignore that number of 60. That's a concerning number."
As of Friday, 304 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the St. Louis area. Seventy-nine are in I-C-Us.
Garza says many of the hospitalizations come from rural areas, where there are no mask mandates. He is calling on people to wear masks, even where they are not required.
He says in addition to COVID-19 patients, hospitalizations for other causes are increasing, further stressing the healthcare system.
The surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations is so severe in the Kansas City area that some hospitals were forced at one point to refuse ambulances due to a lack of space. Officials at St. Luke's Health System say eight hospitals, in both Missouri and Kansas, reported such high volumes of patients Wednesday night that they temporarily stopped accepting ambulances. Two of those hospitals were part of the St. Luke's system and the others were not identified. Dr. Marc Larsen of St. Luke's says hospitals in the metropolitan area are "bursting at the seams."
Some information in this story was provided by the Associated Press