St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force

More than 1,000 people in the bi-state St. Louis region and nearly that many across Missouri have died of COVID-19 as of this week. 061920
Kristen Radtke for NPR

Missouri this week saw a dramatic increase in the number of coronavirus cases, with nearly 800 people testing positive on Thursday.

The seven-day average of new cases in Missouri is nearly three times what it was a month ago. As of Thursday, about 600 new cases were diagnosed each day. 

However, during the same period, the seven-day average of daily deaths dropped by 32%.

More than 1,000 people in the bi-state St. Louis region and nearly that many across Missouri have died of COVID-19 as of this week. 061920
Kristen Radtke for NPR

More than 1,000 people have now died of COVID-19 in the bi-state St. Louis area. 

The region surpassed the grim milestone late this week, about 90 days since a St. Louis County woman became the first in the metro area to die of the illness caused by the coronavirus. 

St. Louis County alone accounts for about half of the deaths, though it makes up around a third of the region’s population. St. Louis and St. Clair County each has seen more than 100 of their residents die of COVID-19. 

Dr. Robert Poirier works in the Barnes-Jewish Hospital emergency department. He says patients are dying because they're waiting too long to seek care in the region's ERs.
Erin Jones | Barnes-Jewish Hospital

People in the St. Louis region are dying from preventable causes such as strokes or heart attacks because they’re afraid of contracting COVID-19 in emergency rooms, doctors said this week.

Patient volume in the region’s emergency rooms is down by as much as 50%, according to hospital officials at Barnes-Jewish, SSM Health and Mercy hospitals. Doctors want to ensure patients that they won't contract the coronavirus in the ER and should seek care if they need it.

After steep increases at the end of March, new cases of people testing positive for the coronavirus have leveled off, if not declined in Missouri, Illinois and the St. Louis metro area.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

The number of new coronavirus cases in the St. Louis metro area is decreasing.

Although the overall number of positive cases continues to rise, fewer people on average are getting that diagnosis today than a week ago, according to an analysis of county-level data.

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That deceleration of new cases comes ahead of this weekend, when the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force predicts area hospitals will see peak numbers of COVID-19 patients. Experts said the peak is not expected to overwhelm the region’s supply of hospital beds, ICU beds or ventilators. The average length of the illness is about 14 days.

health officials are expecting the peak on/around April 25. But another, potentially worse, peak could come if businesses/etc try to go back to normal before wide-spread testing becomes available.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

About a month ago, Dr. Keith Woeltje’s initial projections plotting the curve of COVID-19 cases in the St. Louis region looked bleak.

“For a couple of days there, it actually looked like we had a steeper curve than New York City. Then things started to flatten out a bit,” said Woeltje, vice president and chief medical information officer at BJC HealthCare.

St. Louis-area hospitals are expected to take on the peak of COVID-19 patients late this week, around Saturday. Updated models from mid-April, which use local data from previous weeks, show that in the most likely scenario, about 700 people will need to be hospitalized at that time. Nearly 180 of those patients will likely be in intensive care units, and around 125 will need ventilators. In a worst-case scenario, those numbers double.

Medical workers at Mercy Health's drive-through novel coronavirus test collection site are gathering samples from patients daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (March 16, 2020)
File Photo| Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Dr. Alex Garza is leading a collaboration of the St. Louis region’s four major health systems: SSM Health, Mercy, BJC HealthCare and St. Luke’s Hospital.

The region is beginning to “bend the curve” thanks to social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders, Garza said earlier this week. 

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Garza talked to host Sarah Fenske and discussed how the current restrictions in place are helping to lessen the strain on St. Louis’ health care system and reduce the number of hospitalizations in the area.

The emergency department at SSM Health St. Mary's in Clayton is one of several facilities in St. Louis County that County Executive Sam Page would like to have report non-fatal overdoses to the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis hospitals have more than a week before they experience the peak number of patients sick from COVID-19, officials representing the region’s largest health systems said. 

Hospitals will see the most strain on their resources around April 25, said Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. The need for intensive care unit beds will peak a few days earlier.