Our View

Milestones keep blowing by us, and that's no good thing.

The Joplin metro area — Jasper and Newton counties and the city of Joplin — has now pushed past 4,000 COVID-19 cases. It was just three weeks ago that we hit 3,000 cases; it wasn't until June 28 that we hit 1,000 cases.

If we stay on this track — and we don't see anything to indicate our path is going to change — the two-county metro area could hit 5,000 cases around the first of October and 7,000 cases before Thanksgiving.

Those are not milestones we want to pass.

We are at 62 deaths currently, more than half of them in area nursing homes. It's safe to say that as long as community spread continues, COVID-19 will make its way to other vulnerable members of our community, and our death count will continue to climb.

Meanwhile, Missouri cases could top 100,000 in a matter of days, and our seven-day positivity rate has now increased to 13.8%. Our state has the dubious honor of having the fifth highest seven-day rolling average of daily new reported cases per capita.

And nationwide, we are about to hit 200,000 deaths.

Just more grim milestones that tell us we are racing hell-for-leather in the wrong direction.

We knew some of this would happen when school resumed — more than 7,000 college-age people in Missouri already have tested positive for the coronavirus since classes resumed in mid-August.

We also know that the White House Coronavirus Task Force urged Missouri to issue a statewide mask mandate recently, citing high levels of transmission in many counties.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson was alerted to this report, but didn't make the recommendation. Regardless, the public knows what it needs to do, with or without a state or local mandate or White House advisory: Wear a mask when out and about, stay home and away from others when sick, social distance and follow basic hygiene principles, including washing of hands and sneezing or coughing into your elbow.