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Task force projections predict decline in hospitalizations over next few weeks

The seven-day average for hospitalizations was 447 on Tuesday, the lowest since Aug. 5

ST. LOUIS — Projections from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force are predicting a decrease in hospitalizations over the next few weeks for the first time in months.

"The models predict that we will be on a downward trend for the near future," Dr. Clay Dunagan said Tuesday afternoon.

The projection is a continuation of the downward trend that has been ongoing for a few weeks. The seven-day average for hospitalizations was 447 on Tuesday, the lowest since Aug. 5. The seven-day average for new admissions on Monday was 63, the lowest since Aug. 30. It increased slightly on Tuesday to 65.

The number of cases in the region has remained consistent, Dr. Dunagan said, with a slight increase in recent days. He said that increase reflected increasing cases in younger age groups. He said it may also be due to additional in testing in those age groups.

"Some of that actually might be so-called surveillance bias, which means we might be detecting a few more cases because of all the attention that's being paid to schools and transmission in schools," he said. "But I think it's safe to say we are not seeing a decrease in rates right now in our region."

Dr. Dunagan said the most significant increase in cases has come in the 12-18 age group. He said while the cases are among school-age children, the transmission is not necessarily happening in the classroom.

He said schools have found success in limiting the spread of COVID-19 by taking mitigating steps like modified quarantine rules and mask-wearing requirements. By using both, schools have been able to limit the spread and keep children in the classroom so long as they took the proper steps.

Dr. Dunagan said he is hopeful some of those children will be eligible for the vaccine before the end of the year. He said after the announcement from Pfizer this week, the task force expects emergency use authorization or full authorization of the vaccine for children age 5-12 in October or November.

He said the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the virus. Health system vaccine mandates have been effective in reducing the number of cases among healthcare workers.

"The number of COVID infections in health system employees has probably been half of what the increase in rates has been in the general population," he said.

Dr. Dunagan said people who need to be tested due to possible exposure or to attend an event should start with their local health department or pharmacy, and avoid the hospital system if possible. He said you can get tested at task force hospitals, but they are prioritizing the most ill patients, which could mean a long wait.

People who were exposed to a person who has a confirmed positive case should get tested three to five days after the potential exposure.

The data for September 21, 2021 is as follows:

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 52 Monday to 60 Tuesday.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 63 Monday to 65 Tuesday.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations decreased – from 449 Monday to 447 Tuesday.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID-positive hospitalizations decreased – from 442 Monday to 437 Tuesday.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID-positive hospitalizations decreased – from 55 Monday to 50 Tuesday.
  • The number of confirmed COVID-positive patients in the ICUs increased – from 120 Monday to 126 Tuesday.
  • The number of confirmed COVID-positive patients on ventilators increased – from 81 Monday to 96 Tuesday.
  • The number of COVID deaths decreased – from 12 Monday to 9 Tuesday.
  • The seven-day moving average of COVID deaths remained the same at 9 Tuesday.
  • Across the system hospitals, 85 patients were discharged Monday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 27,886.
  • Of the 405 hospitalized COVID patients in the three reporting Task Force hospitals Tuesday – 77 are fully vaccinated. That’s 19% of the patient population.
  • There are 9 COVID-positive children who are 0-11 years of age in Task Force hospitals.
  • There are 11 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 are 3 COVID-positive children who are 12-18 years of age and in the ICU.
  • Tuesday, staffed bed hospital capacity is at 88% an average across our task force hospitals. The ICUs are at 81% of their total staffed bed capacity.