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'We must all act now': Task force leader says action is needed to avoid another shutdown

On Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported another 888 confirmed cases, bringing the department's count to 29,714

ST. LOUIS — The leader of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said on Wednesday the region is moving in the wrong direction, a trend he called concerning.

"The virus has accelerated transmission through our community, and we must all act now before it gets any worse," Dr. Garza said in the opening statement of the briefing.

It was the first briefing from the task force since Missouri set a new single-day high for new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with 936. On Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported another 888 confirmed cases, bringing the department's count to 29,714.

"Our numbers are not only trending in the wrong direction, they're trending in a troubling direction," Dr. Garza said Wednesday. "And we should all be concerned for the health and safety not only of ourselves but for our loved ones, our friends and our neighbors."

Other states and cities across the country have taken steps back in their reopening processes due to the virus's resurgence. When asked if he thinks that could happen in the St. Louis area, Dr. Garza stressed the importance of mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing. And if the virus continues to spread, he said, there may not be many other options.

"If we continue to see the rate of increases in cases, if we continue to see the rate of increases in hospitalizations, in admissions and people in our intensive care units, there's very few levers to pull outside of then pulling back on those societal restrictions, such as limiting capacities and rolling back how many people can gather," Dr. Garza said. "And then, of course, the most dramatic would be another shelter in place."

Nearly all the numbers the task force tracks increased again Wednesday. Dr. Garza said even if swift action is taken, it will take time to change the trend in hospitalization data.

"Hospitalization data is really a lagging metric, and it indicates, though, how many people are contracting the virus," Dr. Garza said. "However, what that means because it's a lagging indicator, is that it takes a lot of time to turn the curve around because hospitalizations occur towards the end of the infection or the middle and the end of the infection."

Here are the latest numbers from task force hospitals on Tuesday:

New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 27 yesterday to 34 today. *

  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) stayed the same at 30 today. *
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations increased from 179 yesterday to 185 today.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations increased - from 208 yesterday to 217 today.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 152 yesterday to 146 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs increased – from 52 yesterday to 56 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators increased – from 26 yesterday to 28 today.
  • Across the system hospitals, 32 COVID-19 patients were discharged yesterday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 3,255.

*These numbers have been updated to reflect the true number of daily admissions. There was a delay in reporting some test results leading to the increase in reported hospital admissions. This, in turn, affected the seven-day moving average of admissions.

Credit: Task Force

Earlier in the day, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the county is considering changes to sports guidelines after an increase in cases among young people was traced back to sports. When asked if that should come as a warning for schools reopening in the fall, Dr. Garza said it should be a warning for people engaging in any group activity without taking the proper precautions.

"It's really a warning that any group of people that come together and don't practice those mitigating factors that we've been promoting for many months now, you're always going to increase your risk of transmission," Dr. Garza said. "And so I think it also shows that children can pick up the virus, can transmit it."

RELATED: St. Louis County considering changing sports guidelines after rise in cases among kids, young adults

You can watch the briefing on the task force's Facebook page or in the player below:

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported a single-day increase of 888 confirmed COVID-19 cases Wednesday. The only day with a higher increase for the state was Tuesday when 936 new cases were confirmed.

The state also reported a single-day increase of 12,844 tests and 10 deaths. The state's positivity rate increased from 5.71% on Tuesday to 5.74%.

After dropping significantly Tuesday — from 956 to 837 — the number of hospitalizations across the state increased Wednesday increased to 875. The numbers reported each day are lagged 72 hours to improve accuracy.

Credit: Missouri DHSS

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