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'We are in crisis mode' | National Guard could help St. Louis as ICU beds fill up

Monday's update comes after the number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the St. Louis area hit another record high Sunday

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page gave an update on the COVID-19 situation Monday morning. It was his first update after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Families were encouraged to keep their gatherings small, preferably within their own household.

“This winter, avoid gathering with anyone outside your immediate household. Eating meals with others – even extended family members and friends – poses risks of transmission,” the county’s website advises.

"These next few weeks are going to test everyone's mettle, everyone in the community," Page said Monday morning. "We don't want anymore restrictions, but we also don't want our hospitals to be in a position of choosing who gets care."

Page said he will continue to listen hospital leaders, health care workers and other public health officials about the impact the virus is having on the community. He also asked residents to do everything they can to slow the spread of COVID-19.

READ ALSO: St. Louis County's latest COVID-19 restrictions: What they are and how they affect you

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health is reporting a total of 51,324 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Sunday. An average of 660 new cases are added every day. St. Louis County’s positivity rate for the past week is at 17.6%. There have been 976 deaths attributed to the virus in the county.

You can watch Page’s full briefing in the Facebook video player below:

On Monday, Page reiterated area hospitals are running out of space.

"Hospitals could run out of ICU beds as early as this week and they may call on the Missouri National Guard for help," he said during the scheduled briefing.

The number of people in the hospital with the coronavirus in the St. Louis area hit another record high Sunday, even as the most recent statewide hospitalization numbers declined slightly.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said the seven-day average of new patients in the area increased by 13 to 897 Sunday, once again setting a new record. For context, that record has been broken every day since Nov. 10. The data includes patients from BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital facilities in the St. Louis area.

"We are in a crisis mode and the virus is winning," Page said.

He urged St. Louis County residents to not let their guards down, even as more promising news continues to come out about a potential vaccine — or vaccines — becoming available soon. Just a couple hours before Page's briefing, Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection.

"Wide access to the vaccine is still several months away," Page said.

READ ALSO: Missouri virus hospitalizations continue to strain hospitals

The total number of COVID-19 patients in the area increased to 994 on Sunday, up 11 from the previous day. Area hospitals said they are currently using 77% of the total staffed beds and 89% of their intensive care beds.

Here is a breakdown of the data from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force:

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased from 88 to 116
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) remained the same at 116
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations increased – from 884 to 897. This is a new seven-day moving average record.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations increased – from 905 to 920. This is a new hospital admissions record.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 78 to 74
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs increased – from 195 to 202
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators increased – from 122 to 127