Missouri reports at least 314 people have died from the coronavirus and another 7,303 have tested positive for the disease.

Gov. Mike Parson says the state reached its peak on April 7 in the number of coronavirus patients in the hospital. During Tuesday’s press conference, Parson says 1,242 people were being treated in a hospital that day. Since then, the numbers have fallen.

Gov. Parson (Photo courtesy of the governor’s Flickr page)

“As of April 25, the total number of hospitalizations has significantly reduced in every region of the state with the exception of the St. Louis region,” he says. “Our hospitals are not overwhelmed and things are improving.”

The declines include:

  • 67% in northeast Missouri
  • 63% in southwest Missouri
  • 45% in southeast Missouri
  • 41% in the Kansas City region and northwest Missouri
  • 38% in central Missouri
  • 8% increase in the St. Louis region

The St. Louis area has had at least half of the state’s overall cases of the respiratory disease.

Parson says the downward trend has led to his decision to gradually reopen the state for business on May 4. Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Dan Mehan says he’s glad to see a “light at the end of the tunnel for Missouri businesses”. He says a chamber survey shows the coronavirus has caused a significant financial strain on businesses.

“According to our research, Missouri businesses are expected to lose a quarter of their revenue this year. Another 15% of businesses, primarily small employers, are going to go out of business,” says Mehan.

The Chamber has a released a “Return to Work” guide that helps businesses reopen.

Greg Hunsucker of the Missouri Restaurant Association says restaurants are ready to get back to business in a safe and responsible way.

“Tables with dining rooms will be socially-distant,” he says. “We have worked with our employees to implement social distancing and many additional measures to provide a safe environment for all Missourians. On behalf of the 300,000 restaurant employees in the state of Missouri, we are ready to get back to work.”

Stay-at-home restrictions remain in place for some Missouri communities, including in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas.

Despite coronavirus outbreaks among some of the nation’s meatpacking plants, President Trump is expected to order them to stay open. At least 3,000 workers among 48 meat packing plants around the country have tested positive for the virus. Gov. Parson agrees with the president’s move.

“Yeah I think that’s a good thing,” says Parson. “Whatever we do we’ve got to keep the food chain going in the United States and for Missouri – it’s a huge issue here. Yes, I want to see them open and I want to see people going to work and making sure we keep that food chain moving.”

The state is testing workers this week at meat processing sites in northwest Missouri’s St. Joseph and Saline and Moniteau Counties, after some cases have been reported there.

The state will be releasing more information about coronavirus cases among Missouri nursing homes. State Public Health Director Randall Williams says those details will begin being published on Friday.

“We will announce by county at what nursing homes have had more than two cases,” says Williams. “We’ve talked that over with our local health departments and they’re in agreement with that.”

Whether the plan includes assisted living centers is unknown. Dozens of Missouri nursing homes and assisted living centers have reported coronavirus cases, including large outbreaks and several deaths in Springfield and near St. Louis and Kansas City.

The entire press conference is below.