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Task Force Director: 'St Louis region passes a coronavirus milestone, closer to peak'

"St. Louis should be proud of its work, but the virus is still out there. The fight against coronavirus isn't over," Garza said

ST. LOUIS — On Saturday, Dr. Alex Garza, the Incident Commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said the region has passed a coronavirus milestone and appears to be closer to reaching a crest.

"I think St. Louis should be pretty proud of the work that they've done. You know coming together" Garza said.

Dr. Garza said at the time of the area's first recorded case of COVID-19 back on March 8, the reproduction factor was greater than five. Essentially each infected person passed the virus on to an average of five people.

About two weeks later when the stay-at-home order was issued, the infection rate dropped to an average of about two.

Moreover, if the numbers keep decreasing, Garza says the region is closer to reaching a peak in COVID-19 cases.

"All the peak means is when we expect to see the most number of patients in our hospitals," Garza said.

The peak is determined by a number of things

"There are a lot of different factors that go into that. Things like how long do people stay in ICU? How long are people on ventilators," Garza said.

According to the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, currently about 653 are hospitalized with COVID-19. That number is down from 701 Friday. 159 patients were in intensive care units. That number is also down from 168 as of Friday.

"If there's less people coming in and then there's more people getting discharged then that curve should start to come down," Garza said.

And as the curve shifts, Dr. Garza said doctors are learning how to treat patients more effectively.

Dr. Garza also said the good news is more people in our area are practicing social distancing and staying home. Still, he stresses even when the so-called peak hits, the St. Louis region's fight against coronavirus is far from over.

"The virus is still out there. It's still in our community. It's just looking for somebody else to infect right now. This is not gonna be over by a long  stretch. The end state for the virus is ether everybody is immune or there's a vaccine. You have to get about 65% of the people immune in the population and that's gonna take some time to get there. It's gonna take awhile before we can declare victory over coronavirus," Dr. Garza said.

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