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ST. LOUIS – The commissioner of the St. Louis Department of Health has dire warnings about the new COVID surge. Dr. Fredrick Echols tells FOX 2 the COVID numbers are the highest he’s seen since the pandemic began. He says the positivity rate in the city is possibly as high as 40% or more.

He blames the recent omicron and delta variants—as well as people not using masks—for the recent rise.

Echols says the city has taken a number of steps to try to cope with the surge. They added more testing, contact tracing, and homebound vaccinations.

He advises people to take advantage of the COVID Infusion Centers, which treat those with the virus. He says more people should be taking advantage of the free treatments.

The city has been working closely with Affinia Healthcare. Senior Vice President Dr. Kendra Holmes agrees there has been a shocking increase in cases, especially in the city’s minority communities.

Dr. Holmes says part of the problem is not enough focus has been placed on dealing with the impact of COVID on the Black community. Nearly 60% of the new cases in the city are African American people.