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'We're gonna make that up' | Task force says snow slowed vaccine effort, will pick back up soon

"The snow has certainly slowed down our vaccination schedule this week, but we're going to make that up quickly," Dr. Garza said
Credit: UPI
St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force leader, Dr. Alexander Garza becomes emotional as he speaks about the effect Coronavirus has had on the front line workers during his daily report, at Saint Louis University in St. Louis on Friday, November 20, 2020. Dr. Garza outlined ways to combat the spread of the virus. He recommended a state-wide stay-at-home order because what we are currently doing is not working and doing nothing will lead to a lot more deaths. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

ST. LOUIS — The leader of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said this week's severe weather has slowed down their vaccine efforts, but he said they will make up for lost time.

Dr. Alex Garza, incident commander of the task force, said the task force is confident they can make up for the lost time.

"The snow has certainly slowed down our vaccination schedule this week, but we're going to make that up quickly," he said.

Dr. Garza encouraged people to sign up for vaccine alerts with their local hospital and health department. He asked people to remain patient while waiting for a vaccine and to continue to take steps to keep themselves safe and healthy.

"Vaccine is just part of our ability to get back to normal, but so is continuing to wear your mask washing your hands and staying socially distanced as much as possible," he said.

Dr. Garza said reports of people traveling outside their area raised questions about both supply and equity in the distribution process. He said the bottom line is that there isn't enough vaccine to go around right now "through no fault of anyone", which is leading to some of the extreme lengths people are going to in order to get vaccinated.

"In reality, any person that is vaccinated is a good thing, it helps reach herd immunity," Dr. Garza said. "It does raise some questions about equity because clearly, people that have the means to travel or the support system to travel are different than those that do not."

Dr. Garza said hospitalizations and admissions continue to drop in the St. Louis area, continuing the good news on that front. He said while conditions continue to improve, the task force remains wary of a potential increase due to various factors.

"What concerns us is the presence of these new COVID variants, and it's entirely possible we could have another serious wave if we're not careful, especially since it's taking us longer than we would like to get the majority of the population vaccinated," he said.

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 February 17.  

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 37 yesterday to 47 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) remained the same at 42 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations decreased - from 348 yesterday to 339 today.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 342 yesterday to 318 today.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations increased – from 27 yesterday to 37 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs decreased – from 79 yesterday to 75 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators decreased – from 54 yesterday to 53 today.
  • The number of COVID deaths increased – from 5 yesterday to 7 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of COVID increased – from 6 yesterday to 7 today.
  • Across the system hospitals, 68 COVID-19 patients were discharged to home yesterday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 18,866.
  • Today, staffed bed hospital capacity is at 79%, an average across our task force hospitals. The ICU’s are at 81% of their total staffed bed capacity.