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St. Louis Pandemic Task Force: "Within a couple of weeks, we will probably double patients in hospitals"

"That's really high right now and we are not near the peak yet, so we can expect for this to get worse," one doctor shares.

ST. LOUIS — It's been nearly two years since the pandemic started, but it's starting to feel like things are moving backwards.

Places are closing, people are having trouble finding tests, and a record number of people are getting infected with COVID-19.

Dr. Jo-Ann Jose, SLUCare Infectious Disease Specialist at SSM Health SLU Hospital says, "This feeling is very similar to March of 2020."

As of Friday, 1,213 COVID patients were hospitalized in the region's four major hospital systems.

A new record in this pandemic. 

In the three hospital systems reporting data Friday: 

  • 69% of patients are not vaccinated
  • For the fully vaccinated patients, 98% of them are not boosted

"The numbers do not lie about what the situation is right now. The most recent Task Force information that we have is that 90% of our stuff beds are taken up and about 82% of our hospital ICU beds are taken up. That's really high right now and we are not near the peak yet, so we can expect for this to get worse," Dr. Jose shares. 

RELATED: Number of COVID patients in St. Louis task force hospitals surpasses 1,000 for first time

5 On Your Side asked Dr. Jose when the peak could hit. She admits it's hard to predict. 

"When you look at those models, I think the most optimistic take is that next week would be our peak. I don't know if that is really quite right, I think we can expect a couple more weeks of ramping up to the peak," Dr. Jose shares. 

In a news briefing Wednesday, the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force had medical leaders from the region's four major hospital systems. 

Each begging the community for change.

Dr. Clay Dunagan, BJC HealthCare’s Chief Clinical Officer reveals, "If we stay on this trend, in a couple of weeks, we will double patients in hospitals in the region."

However, the hospital systems are already stretched thin with staffing shortages mixed with an influx of patients.

Dr. Farrin Manian, Chief of Medicine at Mercy Hospital admits, "It's a kind of uncharted territory for all of us, as far as the number of patients who we have to take care of with COVID infections."

To keep up, BJC Healthcare already cut off elective procedures this week that can be safely postponed.

READ: BJC halts elective surgeries after COVID patient surge that is 'beyond anything we’ve seen thus far'

Dr. Robert Poirier, Clinical Chief of Emergency Medicine at BJC and WashU says, "Reducing the elective surgeries will help open up some capacity because some of those patients will be admitted in the hospital."

On Wednesday afternoon, SSM Health announced some elective procedures will be postponed, but this wouldn't affect all elective procedures. It would be on a case-by-case basis.

MORE: SSM Health rescheduling some elective procedures during COVID surge

Already adjusting to the overload is Barnes-Jewish emergency department.

"We have to triage. We focus on those that are most sick and need us right now today and need interventions today. We have to open up new COVID floors because we separate those who have COVID and not," Dr. Poirier adds. 

When it comes to adding in ER sections with tents like they did in the past, Dr. Poirier believes it's not necessary this go-around.

"It’s hard in the winter to really open those. They weren’t very effective in an operational standpoint, you need oxygen and extra supplies out there. We are more efficient at our current centers and seeing the right patients at the right time," he points out. 

As hospitals get more equipped for what's to come, health officials urge you to do the same.

"Get vaccinated, get the booster," Dr. Manian pleads. 

Dr. Jose echoes the same message and urges the community to do their part. 

"It's really important that people do what they can to try and make this better. I think that healthcare workers have gone through the last two years surge after surge giving everything they have to do and we are decimated and pummeled as a population," she adds.

The data for January 7, 2022:

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 206 the day prior to 227. New daily admissions record
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 184 the day prior to 190. New seven-day moving average record
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations increased – from 975 the day prior to 1031. New seven-day moving average record
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations increased – from 1158 the day prior to 1213. New daily hospitalization record
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 61 the day prior to 60.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICU decreased – from 191 the day prior to 189.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators increased – from 120 the day prior to 125.
  • 16 COVID deaths are being reported today.
  • The seven-day moving average of COVID deaths remained the same at 12.
  • Across the system hospitals, 181 patients were discharged the day prior bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 33,993.
  •  Of the 1127 hospitalized COVID patients in the three reporting Task Force hospital systems – 351 are fully vaccinated. That’s 31% of the patient population.
  • There are 32 COVID positive children who are 0-11 years of age in Task Force hospitals.
  •  There are 32 COVID positive children who are 12-18 years of age in Task Force hospitals.
  • There are 9 COVID positive children who are 0-11 years of age and in the ICU.
  • There are 1 COVID positive children who are 12-18 years of age and in the ICU.