ST. LOUIS– The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force says cases and hospitalizations are going down following a late-summer surge. While the region is poised to return to the low number of cases saw in June, the head of the task force warns it is too early to say there won’t be another winter surge.
“We are not done with this wave of the pandemic yet but we are certainly going in the right direction,” said Dr. Dunagan.
Dr. Clay Dungan, the task force leader, says last winter the Alpha variant fueled the November and December surge in COVID hospitalizations and cases.
He said that is similar to what the region saw in August and September with the presence of the Delta variant spreading through St. Louis.
Dr. Dunagan also says as the weather starts to get colder people will start to crowd indoors. He explained that with less distancing there is a chance cases could start rising again.
He did offer encouraging news about the current status of COVID in the region. He said the area is 40% below the number of cases during the August peak. He also said the number of hospitalizations is declining and has dropped below 300 at the area hospitals.
Dr. Dunagan also noted there are 9 pediatric COVID cases at area hospitals. He said that is the first time it’s been below 10 in a long time.
He also pointed out that about 75% of COVID patients in the hospital are unvaccinated. He said the percentage of those that are vaccinated has risen slightly but that is due to more of the population getting vaccinated.
Flu season is also right around the corner. Dr. Dunagan said there are two schools of thought over the upcoming season and both have merit.
He said internationally the flu season has been mild because there are still masking and distancing measures in place many places. However, he also said others say there wasn’t really a flu season last year due to COVID and people may not be as immune so there may be an uptick this year.
Dr. Dunagan did mention people can get their flu shot at the same time as the COVID shot or booster.