Garza says COVID-19 hospital admissions trending in 'concerning direction'

While St. Louis County is reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions are also trending in a “concerning direction,” said Dr. Alex Garza, incident commander for the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Taskforce. 

“How the future plays out, whether schools reopen, whether kids play sports, whether businesses open to capacity, whether people end up in the hospital and yes, whether people live or die doesn’t depend as much on our healthcare systems,” Garza said, during a July 15 briefing. “It’s as simple as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing our hands.” 

The task force uses a “seven-day moving average” to look at new hospital admissions because it shows the overall trend. On July 15, Garza said the average is 31, which is the highest that it’s been since May 9. On July 8, it was 21. 

The seven-day average for people currently hospitalized for COVID-19 has also increased to 185. That number was 145 on July 3, and 139 on July 1.

Several other cities nationally have begun rolling back and putting stricter public health restrictions in place again. When asked if St. Louis is on this trajectory, Garza said they are going to have to see how residents respond to the mask requirement ordered in the city and county on July 3. Aside from requiring masks, “there are very few levers to pull outside of them pulling back on those societal restrictions and rolling back how many people can gather,” Garza said. 

This morning, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the county is revisiting restrictions as it reports 243 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, the second highest number since the coronavirus pandemic began. Thus far, 8,000 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

One of the primary sources of spread is youth and adult sports, Page said. 

“We are revisiting our guidelines now and we’re going to make a decision on whether or not youth and adult sports guidelines need to be adjusted,” Page said.

Garza also commented on the spread through youth sports.

“It also shows that children can pick up the virus, can transmit it, and all these other things,” Garza said. “It’s a sobering warning.” 

Garza shared the hospital data as part of his regular press briefings for the task force, which makes up the region’s four largest healthcare systems: SSM Health, BJC HealthCare, Mercy and St. Luke’s Hospital. These systems represent 2.8 million people for an area that includes surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois.

New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased from 28 yesterday to 34 today. 

Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations increased from 208 yesterday to 217 today. Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased from 152 yesterday to 146 today.

The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs increased from 52 yesterday to 56 today. The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators increased from 26 yesterday to 28 today.

Across the system hospitals, 32 COVID-19 patients were discharged yesterday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 3,255.  


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