ST. LOUIS — Doctors applauded the decision to extend stay-at-home orders in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force opened his briefing Thursday by thanking local leaders.
“Extending our stay-at-home for this region is undeniably the right thing to do, and I appreciate County Executive Page and Mayor Krewson’s decision,” said Dr. Alex Garza.
Mayor Lyda Krewson said the city’s order has been extended for three weeks, and it will be re-evaluated on or before May 15.
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St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced the county’s stay-at-home order will be extended until further notice. No specific date was given, but Page said they will re-assess in May.
“I appreciate that they are following the science. This decision will help stop the spread and it will save lives,” Dr. Garza said.
Dr. Garza said the surge is still ongoing in the metro St. Louis area. At just one hospital Wednesday night, six COVID-19 patients were admitted in just two hours. Hospitalizations are up about 50% since April 5.
Data shows social distancing is working and we are starting to bend the curve, but our COVID-19 peak is yet to come. He expects that to happen over the next 10 days.
Models ran by the task force hospitals predict the St. Louis area will hit a peak in hospitalizations on or around April 25, with anywhere from 600 to 700 COVID-19 patients in the hospital on that day. On Thursday, there were 687 coronavirus patients in the area’s four largest hospital systems.
The peak for intensive care unit patients is slightly earlier from April 21 through April 24 with about 170 to 180 patients in the ICU. There were 179 ICU patients in the hospital systems Thursday.
By the end of April, the task force expects 71,000 people in the metro St. Louis area will become infected with COVID-19. That’s down from the 80,000 projection the task force models first showed on April 6.
Dr. Garza previously said about 30% of those infected might not even know they have the virus and many others will have mild symptoms and won’t get tested.
Garza said local hospitals are making important progress in treating coronavirus patients who need to go to the ICU and have to be placed on ventilators. After visiting Saint Louis Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital, he said doctors are learning therapies already tested in other peak areas to help the most critical patients.
“And they are absolutely having an impact on keeping patients out of the ICU and off our ventilators,” he added, thanking clinicians for the work they’re doing to help patients recover.
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Dr. Garza stressed the need to continue social distancing measures and frequent hand washing. He also said reopening the area will take time and patience, starting in areas and with businesses where the probability of spreading the virus is low.
“The timeline is dictated by the virus and the amount of spread,” he said. “It’s a challenge we’ll all get through together.”