Amid COVID surge, masks required for Cape Girardeau students

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — With COVID-19 cases surging in southeast Missouri, the region’s largest public school district is now requiring face coverings.

The Southeast Missourian reported that the Cape Girardeau School Board voted Tuesday to require masks. Classes began Aug. 25 and already, eight of the district’s 10 schools have seen average attendance dip to 90% or below — the level triggering the mask mandate.

Superintendent Neil Glass said 306 students have been quarantined as of Tuesday night, and 28 of the district’s 4,475 students currently have COVID-19.

The delta variant of the virus hit southwestern Missouri early but has since spread elsewhere in the state. Information from the state health department shows that cases and hospitalizations have risen dramatically in southeast Missouri over the past few weeks.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones on Wednesday named Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis as the city’s new health director. She succeeds acting director Dr. Fredrick Echols, who will continue as health commissioner, his previous position.

Davis is an infectious disease specialist at John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis.

“As the COVID-19 crisis deepens across the country, St. Louis needs a health leader who can reach hesitant communities about the importance of mitigation and vaccination,” Jones said in a statement.

Missouri added 1,984 new virus cases Wednesday, bringing the pandemic total to 632,051. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard listed 12 new deaths. All told, 10,622 deaths in Missouri have been blamed on COVID-19. Hospitalizations rose by 43 to 2,189.