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Task force preparing to join state's new vaccine program, warns 'there's still not enough vaccine to go around'

On Monday, the state announced a new plan to utilize health care systems to help with vaccine distribution. The task force said it is working on how that will work.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force is getting ready to distribute additional vaccine doses as a part of Missouri's new plan to speed up the coronavirus distribution process.

Dr. Alex Garza, the commander of the task force, said hospitals in the St. Louis area will 15,600 vaccines per week. They said they will utilize the systems and information they already have to speed up the vaccination process, but it will still depend on supply.

"The health care systems do have plans in place now to deliver vaccine to those people who need it most urgently and as quickly as possible," he said. "But one thing to keep in mind is that supply is still not going to meet demand, there's still not enough vaccine to go around."

Hospitals across the state will be tasked with distributing more than half of the doses the state gets from the federal government. 

RELATED: Missouri hospitals to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Dr. Garza said hospitals have certain advantages when it comes to delivering the vaccine to people who need it most.

"The health care systems have a little bit of an advantage because most of the these people [who qualify for the vaccine] are patients of ours, and so we can easily look through our patient records to identify age and to identify chronic conditions," he said.

Dr. Garza said the task force is still working on the specifics of the plan, but they are confident they will be able to speed up the process.

While the vaccination process ramps up, Dr. Garza emphasized continuing the mitigation efforts that have resulted in decreasing hospitalizations in recent weeks.

"At least for the next couple of months, if not longer, the best thing that we can do for ourselves, for our families, for our neighbors, for our community, is to take the virus just as seriously as ever, and to do all those really important things that we have been doing for close to a year," Dr. Garza 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 Feb. 1.  

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased - from 56 yesterday to 59 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) decreased – from 65 yesterday to 63 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations decreased - from 548 yesterday to 534 today.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations increased – from 490 yesterday to 496 today.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 56 yesterday to 44 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs decreased – from 103 yesterday to 101 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators decreased – from 79 yesterday to 75 today.
  • The number of COVID deaths decreased – from 7 yesterday to 6 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of COVID deaths remained the same at 11 today.
  • Across the system hospitals, 55 COVID-19 patients were discharged to home yesterday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 17,829.  
  • Today, staffed bed hospital capacity is at 78%, an average across our task force hospitals. The ICU’s are at 80% of their total staffed bed capacity.

In Missouri, the state's health department reported 459,597 cases and 6,748 deaths as of Monday, a single-day increase of 778 cases and no deaths. 

It was the second consecutive day the state reported no new deaths.

The state reported 4,165,512 PCR tests as of Monday, a single-day increase of 8,720 tests.

According to the state's dashboard, 515,850 doses of the vaccine have been administered as of Monday, an increase of 4,193 in the last 24 hours.

Credit: KSDK
Credit: KSDK
Credit: KSDK
Credit: KSDK
Credit: KSDK