Task Force concerned over St. Louis COVID-19 transmission levels

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ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Metro Pandemic Task Force commander Dr. Alex Garza said Friday he is concerned with the level at which the coronavirus is being transmitted.

Garza said 353 confirmed COVID positive patients are hospitalized. There are 97 COVID positive patients in the ICU. There are 47 COVID positive patients on ventilators.

“Just a lot of virus being transmitted out in the community,” Garza said.

Garza said the zip codes he is most worried about include 63301 and 63366 which are St. Charles and O’Fallon. He said at the beginning of the pandemic most hospitalizations were coming from urban areas, but now he is seeing an increase in hospitalizations coming from more rural areas.

The seven-day rolling average is 49 which Garza said is one of the highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

“Just like all of you, I’m tired. I want things to be normal again, but they can’t be that way until we interrupt transmission of the virus and get our numbers down.”

The positivity rate is now at 11.6 percent and the transmission rate is now 1.16. Having the transmission rate be over 1 is significantly bad.

By November 8, the task force models show that there will be close to 600 hospitalizations. At the area’s height, there were 757 hospitalizations. The totals could turn out to be less or more, but as of right now the area is trending upwards fast according to the task force.

“We really need this to be a regional and a statewide effort to really start bringing this virus under control,” Garza said. “We’re finding ourselves in a really difficult situation and without the cooperation of the entire region, it’s going to be really difficult to start to flatten this curve.”

Garza said people have seen some numbers that seem contradictory to the hospital capacity. He said some statistics people are seeing are using a denominator of licensed beds, but he said hospitals don’t use all of their licensed beds on any given day, so the denominator the task force is using is called “staffed beds” and that is the number of beds the hospital has enough staff to safely and adequately take care of.

“It is completely true that our hospitals are under stress, that they’re operating almost at full capacity. It is true that we’re having to turn away transfers because our ICU’s are full,” Garza said.

He wants people to understand that not all of these patients are COVID patients, but with the increase in COVID patients hospital capacity becomes compromised.

On Monday Garza will be talking from a different venue and he will be joined by other people who have been impacted by the virus.

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