High-risk holiday activities need to be canceled, says task force leader

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ST. LOUIS- It’s less than three weeks until Christmas and Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, says most of your holiday traditions need to be canceled this year.

“There’s so much virus in the community right now that most of our holiday traditions are going to expose you and the people around you to the virus,” said Dr. Garza.

He explained traveling, shopping in crowded stores, going to parties, and gathering with people from multiple households will without a doubt put you in harms way.

Dr. Garza said that not a lot has changed at area hospitals since heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Hospitals are still full. There’s still a lot of transmission of the virus occurring and we still need to be canceling all of those high-risk holiday activities,” warned Dr. Garza.

There were 147 new hospital admission reported today, up from 104 yesterday. Dr. Garza says it’s unclear if this is part of the Thanksgiving surge.

There have been more than 100 new COVID patients admitted to area hospitals for close to a month.

“We can’t just be repeating this tragedy day after day,” remarked Dr. Garza.

Dr. Garza said what is also shocking is that close to 30% of ICUs have a COVID patient in them and he says that’s in addition to all the other critical care patients that need to be taken care of as well.

The current staffed bed capacity at area hospitals is 83%. The ICU’s are at 89% of their total staffed bed capacity. 

Deanna Hagen, an RN, spoke during today’s briefing. She talked about the stress she and her colleagues feel at work and at home.

She begged people to take a moment to think about the impact of heading to a large holiday activity.

“If you take this virus home to a loved one who doesn’t make it through, they will not be there for the holiday next year,” said Hagen.

Also, across the system hospitals, 162 COVID-19 patients were discharged to home yesterday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 11,976.   

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