‘Don’t relax, be vigilant, and there’s hope’ St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force says surge is coming

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – “Don’t relax, be vigilant, and there’s hope.” That was the tone of the briefing today by Dr. Alex Garza, the spokesman for the St Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.

Garza updated the St. Louis area numbers during this afternoon’s briefing, noting the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, the number of ICU beds and ventilator numbers are unchanged from yesterday.

However, Dr. Garza cautioned that the region still expects a surge of cases coming in the weeks ahead and that it is as important as ever to practice social distancing and hand washing practices.  

The Task Force is now tracking how many people have recovered. Yesterday, Dr. Garza reported 40 COVID-19 patients were discharged from local hospitals.

While responding to reporter’s questions, Garza was asked if St. Louis is seeing evidence that supports the national trend that minorities make up a larger portion of COVID-19 deaths.  He confirmed that St. Louis numbers reflected the national trends, with minorities comprising a high number of the deaths in our region.  Garza attributed these numbers to social inequities including a lack of access to quality healthcare and nutrition.

Garza said Tuesday that the region has a long way to go in the battle against COVID-19. Garza said they are projecting that the St. Louis region could have 80,000 people infected with COVID-19 by the end of April. That is based on a population of nearly 3 million. Many of those people may not show symptoms of the disease but will be able to spread it.

The Task Force includes the St. Louis metropolitan area’s largest health care systems. They are working together to coordinate capacity, staffing, supplies and other issues to prepare for a coming surge of patients with COVID-19. They are also coordinating with public health departments, elected leaders and state and federal agencies to provide the best possible care to patients in the weeks ahead.

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