St. Louis area hospitals at 85-90% capacity due to pandemic


ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County leaders said the latest COVID data is concerning.

St. Louis Metro Pandemic Task Force leader Dr. Alex Garza said they are seeing a high number of occupied hospital beds with about 90 percent of healthcare beds full in the SSM Health system. The numbers were slightly lower in metro hospitals at 85 percent.

“Speaking with our task force hospitals yesterday that same sort of level was echoed across all the hospitals from St. Luke’s to Mercy to BJC,” Dr. Garza said. “We normally don’t operate at that high of a level.”

However, Dr. Garza said it is not only the lack of room that is stressful, but it is also the concern that there are not enough healthcare workers to staff those hospital beds because more frontline workers are catching the virus.

“In addition to being full, we’re also seeing an increasing number of our workforce is being exposed to COVID, not necessarily in the hospitals, but out in the community, so then they become quarantined for two weeks,” Dr. Garza said. “It’s not just only a question of increased volume of COVID patients, it’s also COVID out in the community is causing problems with the workforce, so we’re decreasing our capability to take care of patients as well.”

This means hospitals could slow down on performing elective procedures to ensure there are enough hospital beds in the region.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said he is concerned with the current trend.

“It’s going in the wrong direction. We have seen around 250 cases a day in St. Louis County now for the past couple of days. That’s too many,” he said.

Dr. Garza and Page are urging residents to take the pandemic serious as new COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise again, reaching pre-summer levels.

Dr. Page said he does not want to put more restrictions into place, but the community needs to do their part to stay socially distant, avoid large gatherings and wear a mask.

“I don’t think we’re ready for a stay at home orders right now. But I think it’s time for everyone to say and recognize what Dr. Garza said, too many people are getting COVID it’s moving too fast for our community.” Dr. Page said. “Hospitals are reaching a point of stress on hospital workers are becoming stressed.”

Dr. Garza also said it would be difficult to implement a stay-at-home order again because it hurt the economy so much. Instead, he urges the community to take small, incremental steps to stop the spread. That includes wearing a mask, washing your hands, keeping your distance and avoiding large gatherings.

Dr. Garza said there is a lot coming up that could take the coronavirus in the wrong direction, including cooler weather, flu season and students heading back into classrooms.

Both county leaders are urging community members to do their part and stop the spread of the virus.

“If we could get everyone to do those things, we can go back to doing normal stuff,” Dr. Garza said.

“My plea is to accept our public health orders. We know that this is not normal, it wasn’t what we were doing a year ago, it does require some sacrifice, everyone’s going to be giving up something to get to the other side of the COVID,” Dr. Page said. “Some members of our community have lost their lives or lost loved ones. Some have lost their jobs, some other businesses are struggling, and no one is doing everything that they were doing a year ago. It’s going to require some sacrifice. So everybody needs to step up.”

Dr. Page said this is a tough time for the community, but it’s not the first pandemic.
“We’ve been through this before, it’s been 100 years since we faced a worldwide pandemic, but we can do this. We did this. We’ve done this in the past. We’re a very resilient community and I believe we can get through this together, but it does require some sacrifice, and it will not be normal, it will not be the same as it was six months or a year ago,” he said.

The St. Louis Metro Pandemic Task Force released the following data Wednesday.

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased from 42* Tuesday to 55 Wednesday.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) decreased from 48 Tuesday to 47 Wednesday.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations increased – from 322 Tuesday to 331 Wednesday.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations increased – from 350 Tuesday to 372 Wednesday.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations increased – from 75 Tuesday to 104 Wednesday.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs decreased – from 87 Tuesday to 86 Wednesday.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators decreased from – 45 Tuesday to 44 Wednesday.
  • Across the system hospitals, 42 COVID-19 patients were discharged yesterday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 7,200.

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