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'We're reaching a critical time' | St. Louisans urged to continue COVID-19 precautions

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force stressed there is no question the St. Louis area will still get hit hard by the coronavirus

ST. LOUIS — For people in the St. Louis area wondering if we’re hitting the peak of COVID-19 cases this week, the head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force shared this message Monday:

“We’re reaching a critical time right now,” Dr. Alex Garza said during the task force’s afternoon briefing.

The task force has been giving daily updates for a week now. During that time, the number of patients with COVID-19 and those under investigation for having the virus has risen about 35% at the area’s largest hospitals.

Dr. Garza stressed there is no question the St. Louis area will still get hit hard by the coronavirus.

“I know it’s easy to get frustrated or be tempted to gather in larger groups, especially given the warmer weather,” he acknowledged. “However… we can’t let up. We have to keep doing what we’re doing.”

READ MORE: A timeline of coronavirus in Missouri: 1,500 new cases in 1 week

The task force has been continuing to urge St. Louis area residents to practice social distancing, wash their hands and wash surfaces that are frequently used.

Dr. Garza said the virus still poses a very serious risk to our families, friends and neighbors.

“It will continue to grow,” he added.

On Sunday, 43 COVID-19 patients were released from the hospitals taking part in the task force, which includes BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke's Hospital.

RELATED: Up to 80,000 people in the St. Louis area could get COVID-19, many might not even know it

From Sunday to Monday, the number of people in the hospital because of the coronavirus increased from 607 patients to 634. The number of people in the intensive care unit decreased from 211 people to 189, and the number of people on ventilators decreased from 162 people to 160.

However, Dr. Garza again stressed the importance of not focusing so much on the day-to-day numbers but looking at trends over time.

The task force just received new projection models Monday. Health officials plan to look over the new projections and will give an update to the public later this week.

RELATED: 'The next couple weeks are going to be extremely difficult' | St. Louis healthcare leaders say COVID-19 peak is yet to come

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