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Task force: Lake of the Ozarks parties can only make transmission rates 'go in one direction or stay flat'

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force will give an update on the coronavirus situation in the St. Louis area

ST. LOUIS — The COVID-19 data out of St. Louis area hospitals continued to improve, but the incident commander said it is not a reason for the region to let its collective guard down.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force COVID-19 patients in the ICU, on ventilators and the number of daily new admissions all reached lows since the task force starting tracking the data. Despite the improved numbers in the first week of St. Louis' gradual reopening, incident commander of the task force Dr. Alex Garza said it does not mean things can return to normal in the area.

"Our numbers continue to have that slow but steady decline, but that’s not unexpected and should not be correlated with an all-clear signal, however," Garza said. "We know this because there's a lag time between incubation periods and it will take weeks to see if there’s any changes in our admission or our hospitalization data."

Dr. Garza also addressed the viral photos of people gathering at the Lake of the Ozarks and ignoring COVID-19 precautions. He said only time will tell if the actions of those seen in the photos and videos will increase the number of cases in the area and around the midwest, but he said it certainly won't limit the spread.

"The bottom line is any time you are ignoring all of these practices — whether it's social distancing or wearing masks or not washing your hands —  you're always increasing the risk of transmission," he said. "And so, without a doubt, this type of activity and this type of behavior increased the risk of transmission, which means it can only go in one direction or stay flat."

On Tuesday, the task force reported just 12 new COVID-19 admissions on Sunday. The data is lagged by two days to ensure all COVID-19 or potential COVID-19 patients are being counted.

Credit: Task Force

In addition to the new admissions, 86 ICU patients and 62 patients on ventilators were each the lowest numbers for their respective categories since the numbers have been tracked as well. 

The total number of COVID-19 patients in the system increased Tuesday, from 395 to 415, but the seven-day trend still showed a steady decrease. 

Credit: Task Force

The full breakdown of data trends from the task force is below.

  • New hospital admissions: 12, down from 21
  • Seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions: 22, down from 24
  • Hospitalizations: 415, down from 395
  • Seven-day moving average of hospitalizations: 421, down from 426
  • Patients in the ICU: 86, down from 97
  • Patients on ventilators: 62, down from 65

You can watch the full briefing below.

Monday: St. Louis coronavirus task force reports fewest patients in hospitals

On Monday, for the first time since at least April 5, the number of coronavirus patients in St. Louis area hospitals dropped below the 400 mark.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force has been keeping track of various COVID-19 data trends for the area’s four largest hospital systems: BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital.

When the task force gave its first daily update on April 5, there were 468 COVID-19 patients being treated in task force hospitals. The number grew over the next two weeks, hitting a peak of 757 patients on April 20.

On Monday, the task force reported its fewest number of coronavirus patients to date: 395 people in hospitals being treated because of the virus.

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force

Two other key data trends — the seven-day average of hospitalizations and the seven-day average of new hospital admissions — also decreased from Sunday into Monday.

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force

The full breakdown of data trends from the task force is below.

  • New hospital admissions: 21, up from 20
  • Seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions: 24, down from 26
  • Hospitalizations: 395, down from 413
  • Seven-day moving average of hospitalizations: 426, down from 440
  • Patients in the ICU: 97, down from 110
  • Patients on ventilators: 65, down from 71

Over the last 24 hours, 17 COVID-19 patients were released from task force hospitals, bringing the total to 2,105 patients sent home to recover since the first case was confirmed in the St. Louis area.

READ MORE: St. Louis coronavirus task force reports fewest patients in hospitals

READ MORE: Masks, distancing, no large gatherings: 8 steps to stay healthy as cities reopen