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COVID-19 cases are up in St. Louis, here's what task force leaders say you should do to protect yourself

Dr. Garza said the region is still in a good position regarding the virus, but there are some steps you can take to stay safe.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis area is in the midst of a steady increase in COVID-19 cases, and the leaders of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said people should consider some precautions.

In a video briefing released Tuesday, Dr. Alex Garza said St. Louis is seeing an increase in cases, similar to the national trend. Dr. Garza said the rate of transmission is about five times higher than it was about six weeks ago, when the transmission rate was among the lowest of the pandemic.

He said there are a lot of cases that are going uncounted because people are testing at home or not getting tested, which could result in people spreading COVID-19 without knowing it.

Despite those concerns, Dr. Garza said the region is still in a good position.

"To be clear, we're still in a much better place with the virus than we've been at times in the past," he said. "While transmission in the community is elevated now, we're not seeing signs that the hospitalization rate is going to increase substantially."

COVID-19 hospitalizations and new admissions are trending up but are still among the lowest of the pandemic. Dr. Clay Dunagan said those numbers typically lag behind an increase in cases by a few weeks, so it might be a little while before the increase is visible in area hospitals.

Dr. Dunagan said there are 130 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday, up from a low of 58 on April 17 but far lower than the high of 1,444 on Jan. 17. Dr. Dunagan also said 16 of the patients are in the ICU and six are on ventilators.

Dr. Garza said the region is now in a stage where they must learn to live or "dance" with the virus during surges like these. He advised people to consider mitigation efforts.

"Each person really has to make a personal choice about their own health and the health of those around them to determine what they want to do," Dr. Garza said.

Dr. Garza asked people to consider getting vaccinated or boosted. He said children between the ages of 5 and 11 are now eligible for boosters, and all people over the age of 50 are eligible for a second booster.

   

In addition to boosters, Dr. Garza said to consider masking in high-risk situations like large indoor gatherings, particularly if you or someone around you is at high-risk.

Dr. Garza and Dr. Dunagan also suggested staying home and getting tested if you feel sick. If you do test positive, they also suggested reaching out to your doctor to see if anti-viral treatment is right for your case.

You can watch the entire briefing below or by clicking here.

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