ST. LOUIS — About 80,000 people in the Bi-state area could become infected with COVID-19 over the next several weeks. And about 30% of those people might not even know they have it.
Dr. Alex Garza with the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force discussed those figures during the daily briefing Tuesday afternoon.
He said there about 2.8 million people live in the greater St. Louis area. Models used by the major hospitals in the St. Louis area predict 80,000 residents will be exposed to and contract the virus.
However, most of those people won’t get tested, Dr. Garza said.
He also explained that 30% of people probably won’t even know they have the virus. They won’t have the traditional symptoms, like a dry cough or fever, but they’ll continue to be a risk of spreading the virus to those around them.
“That’s why we practice our social distancing,” Dr. Garza stressed. “All of our hand washing, keeping surfaces clean, all of those different things, because it’s difficult to tell who’s infected and who isn’t just based on those symptoms.”
And as far as how well those measures are working in the St. Louis area, Dr. Garza said medical leaders believe it’s having an impact.
“And so that’s encouraging, but we also know that we’re still on that steep part of the curve and we need to continue doing everything we can to slow the spread,” he said.
From Monday to Tuesday, the number of people in the hospital with coronavirus or suspected of having it went up by 41 patients to 586 people. The number of people in the ICU went from 224 to 239 patients, and the number of people on ventilators went from 172 to 186 patients.
At the peak, Dr. Garza said their models predict there could be anywhere from about 1,300 to 3,000 people in the hospital because of COVID-19. On Monday, Dr. Garza said the concern at that point would be overwhelming ICU capacities and ventilators that are available.
Based on models the hospitals are observing, the task force expects the St. Louis area will go through its COVID-19 peak in the next two to three weeks.
Dr. Garza also said the hospitals involved in the task force — BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke's Hospital — are gathering information on the number of people who have recovered from the virus. They’re hoping to begin releasing that information soon.