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COVID-19 hospitalizations rise across the St. Louis area

The current sub-variant is causing the already rising number of hospitalizations to remain high, but just how crowded are St. Louis hospitals going to get?

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Local hospitals continue to fill up as COVID-19 cases increase across the St. Louis area. 

The BA.5 sub-variant is spreading quickly in our community and now hospitals are slowly following that trend. 

Dr. Hilary Babcock, an Infectious Disease Physician with BJC HealthCare, described it as a "wait and see" period right now. 

The current sub-variant is causing the already rising number of hospitalizations to remain high, but just how crowded are St. Louis hospitals going to get? 

That's what Dr. Babcock said they are worried about.

"We are worried that this may turn into another bigger surge," she said.

It's a similar sentiment shared with the St. Louis County Health Department Infectious Disease Control Director, Dr. Nebu Kolenchery. 

"We are definitely alarmed, you know, it is very concerning to see more people getting sick in our community," he said.

The rise of COVID infections and hospitalizations in the St. Louis area isn't sitting well with health officials like Kolenchery.

"Our hope is that it doesn't go up because we know how to manage it, but unfortunately, you know, we don't know the future," he said.

Dr. Kolenchery said the transmission and number of patients hospitalized, right now, is the highest its been since the Omicron variant hit Missouri in January. 

"The difference between, you know, even a year ago and today is that we have got every tool that we need to know how to manage and live with this," he said. 

Even though hospitals have more resources than they did during past waves, Dr. Babcock said, it still impacts them.

"All of those patients require a different degree of care, special isolation practices, but still put a burden on our healthcare workers and on our health care system," she said.

Part of that burden even means more staff infected with COVID, since it's spreading so rapidly, according to Dr. Babcock. 

She said this time around though, there is something different and alarming that stands out to her. 

"We are seeing increased numbers in our children's hospital, more than the amount that we're seeing in our adult hospitals, so we're keeping an eye on that," Dr. Babcock said.

That increase is why both doctors said people should start practicing those precautions again. 

This includes social distancing and masking up in crowded places. 

Both Dr. Kolenchery and Dr. Babcock said if you haven't been vaccinated or received your booster shot yet, now's the time.

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