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ST. LOUIS–Military doctors or medical teams staffed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency could be in the St. Louis area if the federal government answers a call for help from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.

On Thursday, Dr. Alex Garza, Task Force Leader, told FOX2 that it’s the first time hospitals here have needed to make the request, as hospitals not only see the most patients they’ve seen during the pandemic, but are losing staff to sick days brought on by their own COVID cases or those close to them.

“This is a reflection of where we are in the pandemic. We’re seeing more patients now than we have ever seen before in the pandemic. Unfortunately, we have our workforce is either getting ill or having that second order effect from the virus… having to take care of family members, schools closing down, things like that. We’re typically very self-sufficient in health care, we don’t like to ask for help but I think we’re at that point where we need to ask for help,” Garza said.

The move comes roughly three weeks after Missouri Governor Mike Parson ended the state of emergency which had been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. Task Force leaders have been critical of that move to end the emergency order, which allowed for expanded use of telehealth services, the ability to exceed licensed bed capacity when required by demand, took down barriers to testing and treatment of COVID 19 patients.

The timetable for a response to the request for federal help was unclear Thursday. A spokesperson for Governor Parson said his office was aware of the request, which it said went through the State Emergency Management Agency.