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ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force is reporting 12 new COVID-related deaths Thursday, the highest single-day total since the third week of September.

The Task Force reported earlier this week that the hospital systems were beginning to feel the strain of the winter surge of the virus and said models now indicate we may match last winter’s COVID chaos. 

There are 130 COVID patients in the ICU at task force hospitals. That is the highest number since the first week of September. The hospitals have also seen 124% increase in ICU patients in the last month.

The task force hospitals have also seen a 107% in COVID positive patients.

Task Force leaders believe the region will match last winter as soon as early January 2022 if the virus transmission in the region goes unchecked. 

The number of children testing positive for COVID and in the hospital for the virus is also rising. There are 24 children in the hospital for COVID, 5 of them are in the ICU.

This comes as many school districts have announced a mask optional policy when school resumes after the holiday break.  Those new policies come as pressure mounts from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt for schools to remove mandatory masking policies after courts agreed with his stance that the schools were not allowed to issue masking rules.

The task force is asking people to wear masks while indoors, get vaccinated, and stay home if they don’t feel good in an effort to slow the virus.