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ST. LOUIS – There are signs of COVID hospitalizations plateauing in the region. The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force released its latest data and said the area is looking better than it did a week ago.

Dr. Clay Dunagan, the task force leader, says there are 528 patients in area hospitals with COVID. He said that is significantly less than the 7-day moving average. He said he hopes that trend continues.

Also, Dunagan explained out of the 528 patients, 82 of them are fully vaccinated.

The update came on the day when the Missouri Attorney General announced a class-action lawsuit against schools with mask mandates.

Dr. Dunagan said from a scientific basis masking in schools is a prudent step to take. He says medical experts have seen schools that take precautions against the spread can keep kids safe in the classroom.

He said while wearing a mask may create a barrier to interaction in the classroom it is more productive than having children in quarantine due to rapid spread.

He said while a majority of children who will get COVID will handle it well that is not the case for all children.

He broke down the numbers for children in area hospitals with COVID. He said there are 17 children under the age of 11 in the hospital. Five of those children are in the ICU.

There are also 11 children ages 12-18 in area hospitals. Two children in that age group are in the ICU. Dr. Dunagan did point out those children have underlying medical issues.

Dr. Dunagan also said if you compare the curve of St. Louis’s cases to southwest Missouri it appears our region may have hit a plateau. He said southwest Missouri saw its peak 6 weeks sooner than St. Louis. Six weeks later, St. Louis is seeing a flattening of the curve, not a rise.

“It’s a promising sign we may have had some impact on spread in the region,” said Dr. Dunagan.