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St. Louis doctors encouraged by COVID-19 trends in the community, but offer caution

The number of COVID-19 patients is still higher than it was in early April, but the last few days show a downward trend

ST. LOUIS — The lead doctor with the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said he’s encouraged by the COVID-19 data he’s seeing this week but offered more caution as parts of the area look to reopen soon.

Incident commander Dr. Alex Garza said the task force hospitals are focused on following overall trends, rather than just looking at day-to-day numbers and data.

“This is really important as we try to understand the reproductive rate, or how we’re performing or what the spread is like in the community,” he said.

The number of COVID-19 patients is still higher than it was in early April when the task force first started giving daily updates. The last few days show a downward trend.

“We’re encouraged by the data though, as you can see on the curve it was coming up and it has sort of flattened. And we’re seeing that continue through the remainder of this week,” Dr. Garza said.

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force

READ MORE: Doctors warn of second wave, urge caution with reopening economy

He credited elected officials and health care leaders for putting together social distancing policies and credited the community for responding to help flatten the curve.

“It’ll be really critical though to continue to follow the guidance that everybody has put out. We want the curve to come down, and that’s dependent upon what happens in the community,” Dr. Garza added.

He has said it is important to continue social distancing measures, as the St. Louis area is likely in the peak of COVID-19 cases right now.

There are 702 COVID-19 patients in St. Louis area hospitals as of Wednesday afternoon, which is up from 678 on Tuesday. There area 160 patients in the ICU, up from 159 Tuesday. And there are 121 COVID-19 patients on ventilators, which is up from 113 on Tuesday.

There were 42 patients who had tested positive for the virus and were released from area hospitals since the last update Tuesday. That brings the total to 1,209 COVID-19 patients released from the hospital.

On Tuesday, he urged caution as Missouri looks to reopen many businesses next week.

"Nobody has the perfect playbook on how to go about reopening," Dr. Garza said during the briefing Tuesday. “We have to reopen the economy and we have to do it gradually and safely to avoid another crisis. If we relax social distancing too quickly, there will be a second wave.”

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