ST. LOUIS – The latest regional hospitalization numbers released by the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force give cause for some relief in the medical community, as total patient numbers have declined by more than 200 in the last week. As quickly as the omicron variant spurred an incredible surge in hospitalizations, it appears the numbers are tailing off just as rapidly.

A total of 1,241 people are hospitalized in task force hospitals today – comprised of facilities operated by the SSM, BJC, Mercy, St. Luke’s Hospital, and VA Hospital systems. That’s down from a record 1,449 patients just seven days ago.

“Those are encouraging signs, but we also know that we’re not out of the woods yet, and this is really no time to relax on average,” said Dr. Alex Garza, co-leader of the task force.

That decline is being fueled by those hospitals discharging many more patients than they are admitting, with 90 more discharges than admissions in the last week alone. The 118 new admissions reported in today’s numbers represent the lowest single-day total since Dec. 28, 2021. The region set its single-day admission record just 13 days ago, when 244 people sought help in emergency rooms on Jan. 12.

The task force reported 12 new COVID-related deaths in their facilities, cutting in half the 24 people who died the day previous. More than 400 people have died in area hospitals since the first of the year as omicron ran rampant through the community. Right now, those critically ill patients are measured with 200 people in area ICU units and 121 needing ventilator care.

The task force said its projections show the numbers may continue to decrease in the coming weeks.

“The overall pattern is one of downturn, and that’s really exciting,” said Dr. Clay Dunagan, co-leader of the task force. “We do however see some suburban and rural counties where the numbers are going in the other direction as omicron moves through the region.”

The task force leaders thanked the public for stepping up to take precautions in the fight against the omicron variant. Garza also announced that federal help is on the way to fight the pandemic in the St. Louis area. He said 44 government doctors, nurses and therapists will arrive tomorrow at Christian Hospital in north St. Louis County.