FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. — Things could potentially get much worse. That's the grim message from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.
As 5 On Your Side tracks COVID-19 cases, we've learned more about one county with a positivity rate that's doubled in a span of just two weeks.
Two weeks ago, Franklin County was at a 7.15% and now the county is at 13.48% over the last 14 days.
Hospitals like Mercy Hospital Washington are trying to keep up with the demand of COVID-19.
The head of critical care and critical care physician, Dr. David Tannehill says St. Louis Mercy Hospital is a Level III Trauma Center sitting between St. Louis and Jefferson City.
"Being in a rural part of Missouri, the amount of geography that come to us, it's a pretty large geography, because there aren't a lot of hospitals out here," he says.
So he says staff is used to seeing large crowds.
But with COVID-19, that's added more pressure.
"One of the real challenges is staffing and having enough people to be able to take care of these patients. There's furloughs, people laid off, and people get sick. Everyone in the ICU is tired," he explains.
Beyond that, it's the numbers affecting them.
ER wait time is longer since the hospital is full.
Inside the ICU, he says patients are staying longer than 10 days.
"Not only are there a lot of patients, but they’re hospitalized in the ICU for a long time. They get sicker and sicker and the largest percentage of them die, particularly the older population, so that adds to the stress," Dr. Tannehill said.
Looking at the numbers in Franklin County, on Monday, the county reported its highest single-day for new cases at 66 cases.
Keep in mind, Franklin County reports on a 14-day average positivity, not seven day.
This pushed the 14-day average positivity rate above 10% for the first time in more than two weeks.
This means that the 7-day running average for the county is at 44 cases per day, its highest point during the pandemic.
Dr. Tannehill says they'll see the results of that soon.
"There's a lag between when we see that increase in the community and when we see patients in the hospital," he explains.
He says they're expecting more patients coming in for the month of November.
"I think everyone is nervous for what the next few weeks will be like, but at the same time, most of us here, this is what we do for a living. So we view it as scary but we roll up our sleeves and get to work," he adds.
Dr. Tannehill reminds everyone to do their part by wearing masks, washing your hands, and to stay inside as much as possible.
The Franklin County Presiding Commissioner, Tim Brinker, says:
"The coronavirus cases are indeed being identified, and we are grateful to our incredible folks in our Health Department. Franklin County is very fortunate to have only 9 hospitalizations and the ability to treat the virus better now than we were 5-6 months ago.
Please keep in mind that a 14 day test positivity rate being only 13% with a virus that is over 99% curable speaks volumes.
Franklin County Missourians are Great Americans who believe in the Freedoms we are provided, and we do not take that freedom lightly.
We also want to thank all of those moving to Franklin County, and making this wonderful place in East Central Missouri their home!"