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Task force leader says St. Louis area COVID-19 numbers improving, but 'still much too high'

"We still have a ways to go before we'll feel comfortable by saying that we have a manageable population in our hospitals"

ST. LOUIS — The leader of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said coronavirus numbers in St. Louis area hospitals are improving, but he said the virus is still too prevalent in the area.

On Wednesday, Dr. Alex Garza — the incident commander for the task force — said 16% of all hospital beds and 23% of all ICU beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Both of those numbers have decreased in recent weeks, but not far enough, according to Dr. Garza.

"Now it has come down, and we welcome that news, but still much too high," he said. "We still have a ways to go before we'll feel comfortable by saying that we have a manageable population in our hospitals."

Any percentage above 20% is in the red zone the task force considers dangerous and anything between 10% and 20% is cause for concern. 

Dr. Garza said local health care providers are working with the state's health department on administering the vaccine. As of now, the state remains in Phase 1A, which is made up of health care workers, employees and residents of nursing homes.

Dr. Garza was asked when the state might be able to move to Phase 1B, which he said was a complicated question. 

"The short answer is I don't know, but the longer answer is we're pretty confident we've gotten through the majority of our health care providers, at least within the health care systems," he said. 

He said he was "pretty sure" they could get through the rest of the group in the near future, but they will have to wait for the state to move them into the next phase of vaccination.

The following data are the combined figures from the four major health systems (BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health, St. Luke’s Hospital) that are part of the task force, for Wednesday, Jan. 13.

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased from 96 yesterday to 113 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) remained the same at *98 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations decreased - from 767 yesterday to 757 today.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 760 yesterday to 732 today.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 61 yesterday to 47 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs decreased – from 156 yesterday to 147 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators decreased – from 93 yesterday to 89 today.
  • The number of COVID deaths remained the same at 21 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of COVID deaths remained the same at 18 today.
  • Across the system hospitals, 130 COVID-19 patients were discharged to home yesterday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 15,990.
  • Today, staffed bed hospital capacity is at 86%, an average across our task force hospitals. The ICU’s are at 86% of their total staffed bed capacity.