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Continued stay-at-home orders 'really the right thing to do' in St. Louis area, doctors say

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force incident commander said continued social distancing measures should continue "for just a little bit longer"

ST. LOUIS — As the rest of Missouri begins to reopen for business, doctors in the St. Louis area said keeping stay-at-home orders in place is “really the right thing to do.”

Dr. Alex Garza, incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, thanked the St. Louis community for continuing to practice social distancing measures to help flatten the curve in the region.

“These evidence-based measures are really making an impact, and that’s critical now, and they’ll continue to be essential as we plan for the gradual and safe reopening of the economy in St. Louis,” Dr. Garza said.

While Missouri lifted its stay-at-home order, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County remain under order until further notice. St. Louis County alone accounts for 40% of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases and about 50% of the state’s deaths.

“As everybody knows, St. Louis is certainly the hotbed of activity in our state, and so it’s important for us to maintain social distancing and other things for just a little bit longer because of our high rates,” Dr. Garza explained Monday. “It’s really the right thing to do for just a little bit longer until we can make sure we’re read to reopen our economy.”

RELATED: Missouri health department reports highest single-day increase in cases as state reopens businesses

The task force continues to look at bigger picture COVID-19 trends. The recent data showed the average number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital is plateauing, which the doctor said is encouraging.

The seven-day average of new patients being admitted to the hospital is gradually falling. On April 9, the average was 59 new COVID-19 patients per day admitted to St. Louis hospitals. Nearly a month later, the average has dropped to 43 new patients a day.

“And that’s a really encouraging trend as well. The new hospital admission data is more timely than the hospitalization data because it shows those new admits coming in every day. So, we’re really hopeful of this trend line and it’ll be an important and timely indicator as we’re looking to reopen the economy,” Dr. Garza explained.

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force

He still stressed social distancing measures and hygiene practices in place now will help continue to bring those numbers down.

Dr. Alex Garza, incident commander of the task force, announced the number of COVID-19 patients in area hospitals went down by seven patients to 653 people Monday. The number of patients in the intensive care unit increased by six to 164 people Monday. And the number of pateitns on ventilators decreased by seven to 110 people.

Over the last 24 hours, there were 24 COVID-19 patients released from area hospitals, bringing the total to 1,422 patients discharged since the pandemic began in the St. Louis area.

Monday’s update comes as the state of Missouri lifted its stay-at-home ban, and also as the state announced the most COVID-19 cases in a single day since the pandemic began. Stay-at-home orders still remain in place in both the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

READ MORE: When St. Louis area counties and cities plan to reopen

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said the city and county are working together on a timeline to reopen their economies and may be able to open by mid-May.

"Fingers crossed, by mid-May, if we can continue to see improved numbers," Krewson said during her update on Facebook on Monday afternoon.

She said an announcement could come this week. In the meantime, residents will have to adhere to the stay-at-home order a little while longer.

RELATED: St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson says reopening announcement could come this week

County Executive Sam Page said during a Monday briefing that he’s not ready to settle on a specific date to end the county’s stay-at-home order.

“Our goal is to have a timeline by mid-week with guidance for businesses, as well. It’s too early today to pick a date and start building around that date – we really need to see the reports from Dr. Garza over the weekend,” Page said.

The decision will be data-driven, Page said.

RELATED: St. Louis County Executive says reopening timeline could come this week

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