St. Louis healthcare leaders urge the community to reevaluate Thanksgiving plans


ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Metro Pandemic Task Force Leader Dr. Alex Garza said this is the worst he has ever seen the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Hospital bed capacity, based on available healthcare workers to staff those beds, are at 81 percent capacity and 86 percent capacity in the ICUs.

SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in Lake St. Louis has tents outside its emergency room to care for patients.

“We’re full; we have no room,” Garza said.

While hospitals are filling up with patients, health leaders are urging people to not fill their homes with people on Thanksgiving.

Dr. Garza said the rise in cases and the amount of people in hospital battling COVID-19, should be enough to make people not gather on Thanksgiving. He said Thanksgiving become a super spreader event if people don’t only gather with their immediate families.

Dr. Paul Hintze, St. Louis County Department of Public Health director of policy and strategy, is urging the community to only “eat with your family and not with everyone else.”

This warning comes the night before Thanksgiving and days before Black Friday and the holiday shopping season officially kicks off.

“Don’t gather in groups. I know it’s tough this time of year. You’re used to having your family, your friends around. This is a different year; this is a pandemic. The decisions that we make now could literally cost somebody their lives,” Dr. Garza said.

“It’s unnatural to say limit your interactions, stay away from people, but that’s what we have to do, the numbers are skyrocketing,” Dr. Hintze said.

Dr. Hintze said it is critical to follow the health guidelines and he urges people to shop from home if they can.

“Order online, or order and pick up outside the store if you can, that’s the safest thing to do. If you absolutely have to go to the store for some reason, stay away from people, wear a mask, wash your hands,” he said.

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