St. Louis health leaders advise keeping New Year’s celebrations small

Missouri

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force is urging everyone to keep their celebrations small this New Year’s weekend due to rising COVID-19 cases in the area.

“We think you really should consider doing this in the smallest way. If you can limit the number of people in gatherings, please do so. And if you can gather with other people who are fully vaccinated, that’s the best choice,” said Dr. Clay Dunagan, co-leader of the task force.

Dunagan said the highest risk of transmitting COVID is when large groups of people who are unvaccinated get together in a small space without wearing masks.

“Gathering is only as safe as the most vulnerable person in that gathering, and you should think about that as you get together,” he said.

On New Year’s Eve, the task force also issued a statement criticizing Gov. Mike Parson for allowing the COVID-19 state of emergency for Missouri to expire at midnight Friday. The task force said it’s dedicated to helping the St. Louis region, but the expiration of the emergency is making their efforts more difficult.

“We had not planned on doing a briefing today, but because of the rapidly deteriorating COVID situation in St. Louis, we felt it was really important to let the community really know where we are and what they can do to help prevent a disaster from occurring,” said Dr. Alex Garza, co-leader of the task force.

Task force doctors said the contagious omicron variant is leading to the rapid rise of COVID infections. The task force said hospitals already are full, and healthcare systems are facing serious staffing challenges.

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