Garza says the key to slowing COVID deaths is still to slow the spread


ST. LOUIS – COVID-19 vaccinations are rolling out for health care workers but more are still needed. The 7-day rolling average for COVID deaths is in double digits and more than 200 additional deaths have been reported in the St. Louis region.

Just 12 days into the new year and the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force has seen 211 deaths and an average of 18 deaths per day. Dr. Alex Garza, head of the task force, says the key is still slowing the spread to get these numbers down.

“We’re ranging anywhere from around 55% all the way up to 75% of the health care systems population has been vaccinated so far,” he said. “So, we think we’re pretty far along with vaccinating that 1A population within the health care system.”

Dr. Garza says the state distributes the vaccines after each health care system puts in an order for its employees. He says there were some challenges early on.

“We seem to be getting the deliveries that we were requesting from the state now,” he said.

The St. Louis Pandemic Task Force says there are 21 deaths daily and a 7-day rolling average of 18 deaths.

“We’re always alarmed when we have a significant number of deaths,” Garza said.

He says when we see numbers rise the key is to listen to recommendations by health officials.

“Until we can get large scale vaccination out to the public, we still need to rely on the mitigation strategies protective strategies that we rely on the masks, the social distancing, and not gathering in large groups things like that,” Garza said.

He says more cases could be reported as they’re still waiting for data to come in after a busy but less than normal travel season.

“There’s been a recent sort of uptick in cases here locally. We need to see how that’s going to play out, if that’s going to continue or if that’s going to result in more people being hospitalized,” Garza said. “I think in the next week, we’ll have a better understanding what is going to be that impact from the holidays. Then we’ll be able to figure out where we are with the pandemic.”

At present, the St. Louis region has 217,500 cases and 3,488 deaths.

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