ST. LOUIS — COVID-19 cases are still going down in the St. Louis area, and the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force is hopeful that trend continues.
On Tuesday, the task force's leader Dr. Clay Dunagan said the number of COVID-19 patients at some area hospitals is down 40% or 50% from the summer peak boosted by the arrival of the delta variant. Dr. Dunagan said the number of cases in the St. Louis area is still five times higher than the low point in June, but he is hopeful the numbers will continue to improve as the year goes on.
He said last year's winter surge was fueled, in part, by the arrival of a new, more transmissible variant. He said last year's winter surge was similar to the delta surge from this summer.
Despite positive developments, though, Dr. Dunagan offered a word of caution as the winter months approach.
"As people start to crowd indoors and we see less distancing, we could well see a new surge, so it's a little bit too early to declare victory," he said.
As overall case numbers have decreased recently, so have the number of cases in children. Dr. Dunagan said the task force was encouraged to see this, but said they still continue to see children with and without pre-existing conditions getting severely ill from COVID-19.
Task force hospitals administered 367 doses of monoclonal antibody treatments in the past week, and he's hopeful the oral treatment from Merck could offer another treatment option. He said the treatments have not been tested head-to-head, so it's unclear which is more effective, but the pill from Merck would have obvious advantages.
"Obviously, an oral drug would be much easier to administer and much more convenient for the population," he said.
Until the drug is given authorization by the FDA, Dr. Dunagan said they will continue to suggest newly positive patients ask their providers about monoclonal antibody treatment.
Even as numbers continue to decrease, Dr. Dunagan said it is important to wear a mask in certain circumstances. He said it is most important when coming into close proximity to other people whose vaccine status you do not know. As for how long masking will be needed in those situations, Dr. Dunagan said it depends on how things progress.
"How much longer we have to do that depends on how quickly case rates come down," he said. "If they get down to where they were in June or lower, then I think we'll be in a position where we can start easing off on masking and some of the other restrictions, but we really can't predict that as of yet and we need to wait and see what happens with the colder weather."
The data for October 12, 2021 is as follows:
- New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) decreased – from 36 Monday to 33 Tuesday.
- The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased - from 43 Monday to 44 Tuesday.
- The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations decreased – from 328 Monday to 320 Tuesday.
- Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 309 Monday to 299 Tuesday.
- Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 37 Monday to 33 Tuesday.
- The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs decreased - from 106 Monday to 102 Tuesday.
- The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators decreased - from 78 Monday to 71 Tuesday.
- 12 COVID deaths are being reported Tuesday.
- The seven-day moving average of COVID deaths remained the same at 7 Tuesday.
- Across the system hospitals, 58 patients were discharged Monday bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 28,989.
- Of the 299 hospitalized COVID patients in the three reporting Task Force hospitals Tuesday – 66 are fully vaccinated. That’s 24% of the patient population.
- There are 6 COVID-positive children who are 0-11 years of age in Task Force hospitals.
- There are 3 COVID-positive children who are 12-18 years of age in Task Force hospitals.
- There are 3 COVID-positive children who are 0-11 years of age and in the ICU.
- There is 1 COVID-positive child 12-18 years of age and in the ICU.
- Tuesday’s staffed bed hospital capacity is at 87% an average across our task force hospitals. The ICUs are at 77% of their total staffed bed capacity.