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'The worst we've ever been': St. Louis County COVID-19 case rates hitting record highs

The county is currently seeing an average of nearly 1,700 new cases per day.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — As we ring in the third year of the coronavirus pandemic, case rates in St. Louis County are hitting record highs.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced during his regular Monday coronavirus briefing that the number of cases and the positivity rate was "the worst we've ever been in the pandemic."

As the omicron variant surges, the county health department is reporting a seven-day rolling average of 1,696 new cases per day as of Monday. The average positivity rate was 23.2%.

"Our health care workers are begging people to get vaccinated and wear masks. They're seeing the toll it's taking on our community, and they're seeing more sick kids. They're exhausted and they're disappointed," Page said.

Watch Page's full news conference below:

He supported the reinstatement of a mask mandate, which was ended for the county in December following a Cole County court ruling. Page said a new mask mandate would be proposed at the Tuesday council meeting and that he had urged the council chair to allow a debate and vote.

"A mask mandate will result in less confusion, more compliance, keep our economy going and keep our schools open," he said."...Let's be clear -- masks aren't restrictions. They're the path to more freedom to move about, to stay healthy and to look with optimism to the future."

Page also criticized Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's decision to let the state emergency order expire, echoing the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, which last week said the decision hampers health care systems' ability to expand capacity and shorten staffing gaps in order to combat the virus.

RELATED: Lifting COVID emergency order could impact Missouri health care systems

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