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ST. LOUIS – Hospitalizations in St. Louis regional hospitals topped a thousand patients for a record-setting eighth consecutive day with the number of patients now totaling nearly 1,400. The region has also recorded its eighth consecutive day of double-digit deaths attributed to the virus, with another 18 reported Monday.

In all, 1,340 COVID-positive patients now occupy hospital beds in the region, accompanied by another 47 patients suspected of having the virus. That’s a total of 1,387 people currently hospitalized.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reports those numbers are new all-time highs for the pandemic. Of the 1,340 patients who have tested positive for the virus, 428 of them are vaccinated and considered breakthrough cases. That’s the second-highest number to date of vaccinated patients making up the total hospital census, now equaling 32% of total patients.

The 18 deaths reported overnight bring the 2022 total of deaths in area hospitals to 129 people. That’s a pace of 15 deaths per day as the omicron-variant fueled surge has spread throughout the bi-state community. In the last month, the task force says 321 patients have lost their COVID battle as doctors and nurses fought to save their lives.

The task force also reported 180 new admissions in its latest census of SSM, BJC, Mercy, and St. Luke’s hospital systems. That’s the first time single-day admissions have fallen under the 200-patient plateau in six days. Although it does not cause a great deal of hope when compared to admissions totals that averaged 61 patients a day just a month ago.

Critical COVID care continues to be a factor also. The task force says 216 patients now occupy task force hospital ICU beds. That’s the fifth-highest total ever recorded during the pandemic, rivaled only by the earliest days of COVID-19 in April 2020. And 138 patients currently are receiving ventilator care in order to breathe.

As the number of COVID cases rises so does the demand for testing. The North County Recreation Complex opened a drive-thru testing site on Redman Avenue Monday morning. Officials are encouraging the public to take advantage of these sites and avoid going to emergency rooms because hospitals are overwhelmed.

“If you’re not sick enough to be in the hospital, if you’re not having breathing problems, if you’re not experiencing an illness that’s life-threatening, it’s important not to go to the emergency rooms,” said St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page.

Amid the latest surge, scientists at the University of Florida said a model they developed shows the omicron variant possibly peaking in mid-January. Still, local task force leaders were hesitant to make a prediction.

“We believe that just given what we’ve seen in other countries such as South Africa and Europe, and places like that, we will probably hit a peak within the next couple of weeks. Now, trying to pinpoint it, I think any more precise than that is really difficult,” said Dr. Alex Garza, incident commander for the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.