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'We can begin to gradually reopen' | St. Louis COVID-19 task force says St. Louis has flattened the curve

At one point, the metro area was tracking above the worst-case scenario. But around April 5, the curve started to flatten

ST. LOUIS — A new graphic shared Thursday showed how stay-at-home orders and restrictions due to COVID-19 have helped flatten the curve in the St. Louis area.

Dr. Alex Garza, incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, shared a new graphic showing the worst-case scenario curve for coronavirus in the area compared to the actual curve based on hospitalizations. At one point, the metro area was tracking above the worst-case scenario. But around April 5, the curve started to flatten.

“And if you march the dates back, it marches back to when those shelter in place orders were really put in place and we started to suppress the curve. So, that was really good news, we started to flatten the curve,” Dr. Garza said.

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force

He added that area health care leaders are fairly confident that the data will continue to track now with the “reasonable best guess” curve (the white line show in the graph above), as long as people continue social distancing and other measures to help slow the spread.

"Of course, that assumes that everything remains the same. That transmission stays low, that people are doing all of those things, sheltering in place, social distancing. All of those different things," he said.

Dr. Garza thanked the community and local leaders for helping shift the curve.

”Because of all the hard work, because of really those courageous decisions that our local officials made with shelter in place, because of the continued due diligence, the due diligence of our community in complying with social distancing, hand-washing, cleaning surfaces, all of those other steps, that really stopped the spread and ultimately really did save lives. And I don't want to underestimate that,” Dr. Garza said.

READ MORE: St. Louis doctors encouraged by COVID-19 trends in the community, but offer caution

The task force is optimistic that it'll continue to see cases follow the downward trend as shown in the model above.

Dr. Garza said with that data in mind, the St. Louis area can now start planning to loosen social restrictions and reopen the economy, as long as the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital stays where it is.

“The goals are to keep transmission low. We can begin to gradually reopen the economy, but the goal has always got to be keeping transmission low. And that's doing all the things that we're currently doing, while relaxing some of the restrictions. And that's how we can safely and gradually open back the economy,” he said.

The task force, which is made of four of the area’s largest hospital systems, is working with local officials and businesses in reopening the area in a safe way, Garza said. He stressed the need for more testing, contact tracing and a continued form of social distancing in making sure the process is a success.

You can watch Thursday's full briefing in the video below.

More task force coverage: