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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri has been among the states hit early and hard by the delta variant of COVID-19, but there are some signs of improvement.

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard on Tuesday showed 2,146 people hospitalized with the virus. That’s still more than three times the number hospitalized at the start of June, but it’s down from 2,463 hospitalizations on Aug. 19.

Southwestern Missouri — one of the worst hot spots in the nation earlier this summer — has seen a decline from 628 hospitalized patients on July 29 to 431.

One area is surging with illnesses. Southeast Missouri had 10 hospitalized virus patients on July 1. That number was at 140 Tuesday. Three counties in the region — Scott, New Madrid and Mississippi counties — have Missouri’s highest seven-day rates of new cases.

The state’s death rate remains among the 10 worst in the nation, and the number grew substantially Tuesday with 157 newly confirmed deaths. The state health department said 137 of those deaths were found in reviews of past death certificates. All told, at least 10,610 Missourians have died from COVID-19.

The state reported 960 new cases Tuesday, bringing the pandemic total to 630,067.

Two weeks ago, city leaders in Independence rejected a mask mandate proposal during a public meeting. Now, the city is encouraging those who attended to get tested for COVID-19, citing a positive test for an attendee.