BERKELEY, Mo. – St. Louis County issued a public health advisory Monday, asking that more people get tested for COVID-19.
Officials with the county health department say if you’ve got a headache, runny nose, and sore throat, don’t just think it’s a summer cold or allergies, because those are the same symptoms of infection of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which are different than other COVID strains.
That’s why County Executive Dr. Sam Page says getting tested is important.
“So, if you’re experiencing any symptoms at all, please get tested, even if you’ve been vaccinated,” Page said.
The county executive says the rate of new COVID infections and hospitalizations are rising as the Delta variant of the virus spreads rapidly through the county.
“I wish I could stand here today with more encouraging news but the numbers are too startling to ignore,” he said.
The rate of new COVID-19 infections is up 63% over the last two weeks in St. Louis County. The rate among Black residents in the county is five times higher than white people and the rate among people in their teens, 20s, and 30s, is four to five times higher than those in their 70s.
Page says the rapidly rising positivity rates are a sign that not enough people are being tested.
“The tidal wave is coming to our unvaccinated population,” he said. “This variant is spreading quickly, and the variant has the ability to devastate those in its wake.”
Dr. Clay Dunagan, BJC’s chief clinical officer and an infectious disease specialist with Washington University, is sounding the alarm as well that more people 12 and older need to get the vaccine, which he says is safe and effective against the delta variant of the virus.
“The trajectory that we’re on looks very similar to what happened in southwest Missouri,” he said. “We’re just a few weeks behind that curve. It is possible we’ll look a little different here because we have a higher proportion of our population that’s been vaccinated but I honestly think we’re in for a rough ride and I think we need many more people to be vaccinated to head this off.”
Health officials are asking people to wear masks if in crowded situations where the vaccination status of everyone isn’t known. Page says the county is expected to announce an incentive plan later this week where gift cards may be given to residents who get vaccinated.