ST. LOUIS — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page walked up to the microphone Wednesday morning with another briefing about increasing coronavirus case counts.
"Our seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases jumped 35% in the last week," Page said. The county currently has 90 hospitalized COVID patients, a number that averaged in the low 20s just weeks ago.
Page put the sudden increase squarely on the delta variant, which the CDC announced Wednesday now accounts for more than half of all new US coronavirus diagnoses.
"The new delta variant is driving these numbers at a faster clip than our vaccination rate. That's not good math. And it's a formula for a rapid increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations here," Page said.
The latest CDC data shows the variant now accounts for 51.7% of new infections for the two-week period ending on July 3rd. That's a big jump from the 30.4% from the previous two weeks.
The CDC has previously described the delta variant as being "hyper-transmissible" and said those who are unvaccinated remain at risk.
An area where the delta variants gained a foothold, southwest Missouri, just reported 17 more COVID deaths. St. Louis hospitals are sending ventilators to Springfield as hospitalizations spike. Mercy is the most recent system to require vaccines for staff.
That's one reason BJC said they're seeing more patients at their walk-in clinics.
"I think it's a little of both, is what we're hearing from our patients every day," Nancy Coleman said of concerns of the Delta variant and accessibility of vaccines.
Coleman is the site lead for the walk-in clinic at 4353 Clayton Ave. at the BJC Medical Campus in the Central West End. The location offers walk-up shots Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Wearing his Superman shirt, 12-year-old Gus Kurszynski is getting a boost for his immune system before he heads back to school.
"We just got our vaccine. My second one," the incoming 7th grader said, adding the only immediate effect is that his left arm "is a little sore."
"I am a firm believer in science. He is vaccinated on everything else and if this is what we can do to help go back to normal, then we will do this," mom Laura Kurszynski said.
The shot offers a step towards normalcy for the kids coming through this clinic, with Ginny Holtz, 12, and Atticus Holtz, 13, agreeing that the best part of returning to school is being in the same space as their friends.
"Being able to sit by my friends and have class," Ginny said, with Atticus adding "and have lunch together."
That kind of medical security is something Laura Kurszynski hopes will soon be available to their whole family as they have one member still unvaccinated: a 9-year-old who is too young for the shots.
"I'm really hopeful that the younger age group will open up for vaccines so I can get my daughter vaccinated, and then will all be good and hopefully safe," Laura Kurszynski said.
Page said the county will unveil more details about their back-to-school vaccine clinics later this week.
The shots will be available for free every day at the county’s three permanent clinics starting sometime in mid-July
- John C. Murphy Health Center in Berkeley
- North Central Community Health Center in Pine Lawn
- South County Health Center in Sunset Hills