ST. LOUIS – St Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force leadership today provided the best indication of the St Louis region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and our ability to handle the expected peak.
Task Force Commander Dr. Alex Garza today made headlines with several key pieces of information derived from the latest data and projection models for the region. Among them, health care leaders expect the St. Louis region to reach its peak of cases in ten days, on April 25.
During that peak, they expect to continue to have more than 600 hospitalizations on any given day. However, Dr. Garza said without any preventative measures locally, those numbers could well have exceeded 1,000 hospitalizations daily and easily overwhelmed our local medical systems.
During his Wednesday briefing, Dr. Garza painted a picture of the region’s potential for pandemic disaster, and the positive impact “shelter-in-place” requests have had on our bi-state region. Garza believes those efforts have helped to take a hammer to the curve, and decrease the number of cases locally.
“St. Louis is again showing the rest of the country how to deal with a pandemic”, said Garza during the briefing. They now expect nearly 71,000 people to be infected with COVID-19 by the end of April.
However, that number is significantly less than the 80-thousand cases projected early on in the pandemic, as those models indicated major problems if social distancing wasn’t embraced. Dr. Garza said St. Louisans have embraced the requests by government and health care leaders and have made a difference.
He also cautioned against relaxing any restrictions too soon. Garza believes the earliest the region can consider relaxing its “shelter in place” restrictions is mid-May.
He believes historical perspective is the best road map, citing figures from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that showed a second wave that killed more people than the first. That second wave, Garza said, is attributed to social distancing and “shelter in place” rules being relaxed too soon.
The daily perspective for the region provided by the Task Force today included 707 patients currently occupying hospital beds in the region for COVID-19 care. That includes 175 patients in ICU beds, and 149 patients on ventilators.
Those numbers show little change from yesterday. Garza said today there are approximately 900 ventilators available for use in the St Louis region and medical experts believe we are well situated to handle all the resources needed in the next two weeks to deal with the area’s peak.
Dr. Alex Garza, the Incident Commander of the task force says without social distancing and shelter in place policies, the St Louis health care system likely would not have been able to handle the peak.
The task force includes health professionals from major healthcare systems. They are now all working as a team to deliver the latest numbers and our progress in hospitals during this crisis. The hospitals include BJC, SSM Health, Mercy, and St. Luke’s.