ST. LOUIS – Dr. Alex Garza, the incident commander for the St. Louis Metroplitan Pandemic Task Force, says the region is seeing an upward trend in community transmission of COVID-19.
“The data is quite worrisome,” said Dr. Garza during today’s briefing. “This isn’t a blip, this is definitely a trend.”
Garza explained there are 30 new hospital admissions reported, the most since May 19th. Even though deaths haven’t risen in the region, Garza fears they will with more hospitalizations.
The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations increased from 161 yesterday to 164 today. That is the highest its been since June 16th.
The area hospitals did discharge 29 patients, bringing the total to 3,053.
Garza also said that even though the majority of the transmission is in the younger community, it was only a matter of time before the virus would find those more susceptible.
He stressed if everyone in the community doesn’t do their part and take this pandemic seriously, we will see businesses closing again.
Garza was asked the impact the heat could have on the virus. He explained there could be some evidence that with people back at work, stores, and restaurants, that the air conditioning systems are moving the virus around. He said there isn’t solid evidence, but it is possible.
The doctor also provided an update on how the region is addressing racial disparities in testing.
Eleven percent of the Missouri population is Black, but Black residents make up more than 16 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state. White residents make up 82 percent of Missouri’s population but only 44 percent of COVID-19 cases across Missouri are white residents.
Garza said testing has gotten better for the Black community in the metro area.
“From a practical point of view, testing has definitely improved for the Black community,” he said.
He also said contact tracing has improved in the Black community, but he said there are underlying issues of racial disparity.
“Years of social justice issues, economic disadvantages, and racism, and that has been decades in the making, it’s not going to be solved in a couple of months in a pandemic,” he said. “The best way that we can, as a community, handle the pandemic is to make our community more resilient and in order to do that, we have to work on all these social issues. No amount of testing or hospital beds is going to make up for that.”