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Task force says COVID-19 cases are decreasing in St. Louis, but potential threats remain

"That is welcomed news and the first time we’ve been in negative territory in some weeks," Dr. Dunagan said

ST. LOUIS — Some encouraging news from the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force.

Hospital admissions have plateaued and officials are hopeful things could improve if people take the right actions.

"St. Louis has plateaued somewhat," St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force leader Dr. Clay Dunagan said. "The number of new cases in the region has definitely plateaued at least for the time."

The number of new cases flattened out over the last week to 10 days. New cases have decreased by 5% in the rolling seven-day moving average.

"That is welcomed news and for the first time we’ve been in negative territory in some weeks," Dr. Dunagan said.

Dr. Dunagan said there are some threats in the horizon though.

"The return to school brings new opportunities for the virus and with the upcoming respiratory virus season, we don’t know how it will impact case rates," Dr. Dunagan said.

He said if we are able to sustain these numbers though, we may have blunted the curve.

Looking at numbers from the area's largest health care systems, on Tuesday, there were 528 COVID patients hospitalized.

Out of that group, 82 are fully vaccinated.

21 patients are under the age of 12, seven are in the ICU.

Dr. Dunagan said most of those children have underlying conditions.

Even though the numbers have plateaued, we are still in the 500 hospitalization range.

We haven't been in this range since the tail end of the winter peak on January 30.

Task force leader Dr. Clay Dunagan said they've had to limit elective procedures or postpone them.

With this plateau, Dr. Dunagan said we need to avoid going up again.

"If the numbers stay where we are, we should be able to manage through without dramatic postponements. If rates go up, if school brings in a new round of transmission events or people aren't cautious over the Labor Day holiday, and we see a new surge that may test that statement," he explains.

Dr. Dunagan said there are two ways to get immunity right now.

Getting COVID-19 or getting the vaccine.

He explains it's better to get vaccinated rather than getting the infection naturally. That's because if you get the infection, there are more chances of death and dealing with prolong severe symptoms, six months or a year out.

On the topic of vaccines, Dr. Dunagan also addressed the most recent announcement from the FDA giving full approval to the Pfzier vaccine for ages 16 and up.

He hopes this encourages businesses and organizations to require vaccinations.

As far as therapies in controlling the virus, Dr. Dunagan explains there are very few therapies for the virus, one thing to help is monoclonal antibodies.

"Currently there are a number of people who aren’t vaccinated and can receive these infusions," he said. 

He said they just got approval to use the treatment as a prevention measure for at-risk individuals. 

Dr. Dunagan said they are currently doing their best to increase infusion capability to meet demand. There will be more information in the coming days for those measures.

The data for August 24, 2021 is as follows:

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 62 Monday to 79 Tuesday.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 79 Monday to 81 Tuesday.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations decreased – from 563 Monday to 561 Tuesday.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 560 Monday to 528 Tuesday.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 45 Monday to 38 Tuesday.
  • The number of confirmed COVID-positive patients in the ICUs decreased – from 138 Monday to 136 Tuesday.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators increased – from 95 Monday to 98 Tuesday.
  • The number of COVID deaths decreased – from 12 Monday to 3 Tuesday.
  • The seven-day moving average of COVID deaths decreased – from 10 Monday to 9 Tuesday.
  • Across the system hospitals, 76 patients were discharged Monday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 25,867.
  • Of the 528 hospitalized COVID patients in Task Force hospitals – 82 are fully vaccinated. That’s 16% of the patient population.
  • There are 12 COVID-positive patients who are 11 years of age or younger in Task Force hospitals.
  • There are 9 COVID-positive patients who are 12 years of age or older in Task Force hospitals.
  • There are 5 COVID-positive patients who are 11 years of age or younger and in the ICU.
  • There are 2 COVID-positive patients who are 12 years of age or older and in the ICU.
  • On Tuesday, the 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.