Health orders likely to remain until vaccinations increase


ST. LOUIS– Doctors from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force hospitals all agree that getting vaccinated is the quickest way for things to get back to normal in our region. The doctors gathered today to discuss the current status of COVID and vaccinations in the area to help people understand what it will take to fully reopen the economy.

“The faster we get vaccinated, the faster we can get the pandemic under control,” said Dr. Alex Garza, head of the task force.

Dr. Garza said a recent poll from the Missouri Hospital Association shows that of the Missourians that are not vaccinated, only half of them plan to get the COVID vaccine.

“If that pans out, it is going to take us a while to reach that herd immunity and the virus will continue to spread and we will be dealing with this pandemic for a long time in the future,” explained Dr. Garza.

Dr. Garza said the rate at which people in the region are currently getting vaccinated coupled with the continued transmission of the COVID virus means it is too soon to loosen public health measures.

He said the UK variant is definitely in the area and it spreads more easily. The region is seeing a considerable drop in cases and hospitalizations but recently the numbers have plateaued.

“There is a temptation to let up on previous measures,” says Dr. Garza.

But he warned it is too soon to abandon those previous steps that have helped prevent the spread of the virus.

Dr. Garza explained if the health measures were reduced and the vaccination rate stayed the same there would be an increase in the spread of the virus.

Dr. Aamina Akhtar from Mercy said she and her colleagues are often asked when can things go back to normal. She said that is really a question for the entire community.

 “The community has to help us do their part, get vaccinated and while we are vaccinating, maintain the social distancing and masking and so when the community is able to help us with those regards we will be able to answer that question back to them,” said Dr. Akhtar.

Several of the doctors on hand also explained the COVID patients they are seeing are younger than a year ago and have not had the vaccine.

One doctor said unvaccinated patients told her they feel their risk is low and are either waiting for the vaccine or think they are ok without it.

Dr. Garza stressed that the impact of COVID, even mild cases, can be quite impactful and last a long time. He and others agree the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of the virus.

The panel was also asked about mask-wearing after receiving the vaccine.  Dr. Akhtar explained there are still so many people who are unvaccinated. She said that coupled with the variants circulating in the area means people still need to abide by social distancing and mask-wearing.

Dr. Alex Garza, the Incident Commander for the Task Force will be joined by Dr. Clay Dunagan from BJC Healthcare, Dr. Aamina Akhtar from Mercy, and Diane Ray and Dr. Bill Campbell from St. Luke’s Hospital.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News