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'Vaccines work': Task force says populations with high vaccination rates are taking up fewer hospital beds

For the first time since the task force started its reporting, fewer than 100 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the St. Louis area
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ST. LOUIS — Fewer people are ending up in the hospital with COVID-19 in the St. Louis area thanks in large part to the vaccine, the leader of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said Wednesday.

For the first time since the task force began reporting hospitalizations, there are fewer than 100 COVID-19-positive patients in St. Louis area hospitals. Dr. Alex Garza, the incident commander of the task force, said that has a lot to do with vaccination.

Garza presented data that showed high vaccine uptake in older populations aligned with a decrease in hospitalizations in those age groups. He said people over age 65, who previously accounted for up to 60% of the total COVID-19 patients in the St. Louis area, now account for less than 40%. More than 70% of people over 65 are fully vaccinated in the St. Louis area.

"The takeaway here is a couple of things. One is, vaccines work, they protect people against becoming seriously ill and having to go to the hospital," Garza said. "But secondly is, we still have work to do to get more people protected so that fewer and fewer people end up needing to come to the hospital and receive treatment for COVID-19."

Fewer than 3% of hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, the lowest since the task force began providing data. About 7% of ICU beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, the lowest since last July.

In addition to a decrease in hospitalizations, the number of cases in the area has continued to decrease. There were 25% fewer cases over the last two weeks when compared to the previous two weeks.

The following data are the combined figures from the four major health systems (BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health, St. Luke’s Hospital) that are part of the task force, for June 9.

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 13 yesterday to 20 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) remained the same at 18 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations decreased – from 112 yesterday to 106 today.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 107 yesterday to 93 today.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 29 yesterday to 27 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs increased – from 29 yesterday to 30 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators remained the same at 14 today.
  • The number of COVID deaths increased – from 1 yesterday to 2 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of COVID deaths remained the same at 2.
  • Across the system hospitals, 28 patients have been discharged, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 22,706.
  • Today, staffed bed hospital capacity is at 84%, an average across our task force hospitals. The ICU’s are at 84% of their total staffed bed capacity.

As of Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 514,236 cases and 9,193 deaths, an increase of 2,264 cases and 71 deaths in the last week.

The health department also reported 5,586,171 tests as of Wednesday, an increase of 48,924 tests in the last week.

As of Tuesday, 4,780,515 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state, an increase of 91,064 doses in the last week. According to the CDC, 43.0% of people have received their first dose (up from 42.3% last week) and 35.4% of people have been fully vaccinated (up from 34.5% last week).

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As of Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,386,262 cases and 22,997 deaths, an increase of 3,197 cases and 155 deaths in the last week.

The health department also reported 24,991,516 tests as of Wednesday, an increase of 315,459 tests in the last week.

As of Tuesday, 12,026,308 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state, an increase of 307,665 doses in the last week. According to the CDC, 56.4% of people in the state have received their first dose (up from 55.2% last week) and 41.5% of people have been fully vaccinated (up from 40.2% last week).

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