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How Missouri compares to other states during coronavirus


From the number of positive cases to the governors’ responses, here’s a look at how Missouri compares to other states

Missouri has issued fewer sweeping statewide mandates than other states comparable in size when dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic — but thus far it’s in the bottom cluster of states in terms of positive cases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

A study of CDC data comparing Missouri to states similar in size — from Virginia to Indiana, Minnesota to Washington — showed a variance in responses to the COVID-19 crisis, but also some commonalities. For example, all 13 states studied have declared a state of emergency. 

But Missouri is unique in some regards. While all public districts and charter schools shuttered by March 19, Missouri is the only state that didn’t force a closure. Instead, Gov. Mike Parson left the decision up to local districts. And only Washington state — which is one of the epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak — has joined Missouri in requesting a federal disaster declaration

The Missouri Times took a look at the CDC’s data comparing Missouri to 12 other states similar in population size. To note, Missouri’s health department has reported more positive cases than what is reflected in the CDC’s most recent numbers. However, we referred to the nation’s health protection agency for consistency in comparing trends. 

Data taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The states studied in order of population rank:

    • No. 12 Virginia — 391 positive cases
    • No. 13 Washington — 2,469 positive cases
    • No. 14 Arizona — 326 positive cases
    • No. 15 Massachusetts — 1,159 positive cases
    • No. 16 Tennessee — 667 positive cases
    • No. 17 Indiana — 365 positive cases
    • No. 18 Missouri — 255 positive cases
    • No. 19 Maryland — 349 positive cases
    • No. 20 Wisconsin — 457 positive cases
    • No. 21 Colorado — 921 positive cases
    • No. 22 Minnesota — 287 positive cases
    • No. 23 South Carolina — 342 positive cases 
    • No. 24 Alabama — 242 positive cases 

Most states have done some form of restricting employee travel. About half, including Missouri, have not deployed the National Guard. 

Indiana, Massachusetts, and Washington have implemented statewide stay at home orders. Maryland, Tennessee, and Virginia have limited social gatherings to no more than 10 people. Alabama has placed the cap at 25, and South Carolina has limited social gatherings to just three people. 

In Missouri, Parson issued a social distancing order which says individuals “shall” avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also have not implemented a statewide limit on gatherings. In each state, however, many urban areas have instituted their own bans or stay at home directives. 

Parson has largely left the decision up to local areas, citing the vast differences between the more rural and urban regions. But in doing so, he’s attracted a bevy of criticism from Democrats and opponents. 

The Democratic Governors Association said Parson “has refused to show decisive leadership” during the pandemic and has promoted editorials from the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch critical of Parson for not shuttering schools or dictating Missourians stay inside their homes. 

St. Charles County is one such place with its own stay at home order, requiring individuals to remain in their residences except for “activities they deem essential to their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being,” among other things. County Executive Steve Ehlmann said he trusts citizens to decide what is “essential” on their own.

“It’s very difficult when government starts making the decisions. I’d rather the people decide for themselves, send a message to businesses that are not essential, and have them close on their own rather than the government telling them to close,” Ehlmann said in a recent interview.

As the CDC data shows, Missouri has some of the least statewide directives but has seen fewer positive cases of coronavirus. As more testing becomes available, the state is sure to see more positives — a trend seen across the entire nation. And most of the states studied can point to instances of citizens who would like to be tested but do not meet the symptomatic requirements imposed in each jurisdiction. 

The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” while the disease is called “coronavirus disease 2019,” or “COVID-19.” It can cause severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned.

There have been more than 54,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., and 737 deaths, according to the CDC. 

DHSS has opened a public hotline operated by medical professionals around the clock seven days a week. The hotline number is 877-435-8411.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.