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St. Louis pandemic task force warns of holiday gatherings as COVID-19 numbers plateau at 'dangerously high' level

Some health care workers in the St. Louis area have begun to receive the coronavirus vaccine

ST. LOUIS — With the Christmas holiday just one week away, the head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force cautioned against large in-person gatherings.

"When you're planning for your holiday, know that we still have months to go, which, unfortunately, means more cases in our hospitals and more people in our intensive care units," Dr. Alex Garza said. "So, this Christmas do everything you can to help keep your family safe."

Garza said he is optimistic about the rollout of the vaccine to some health care workers at hospitals across the region.

"To those folks, I know that is a huge relief that they will soon be protected, but of course, we know immunity is not immediate," he said.

Garza cautioned that the vaccine will not be available to the general public for months so people should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"While we're hopeful about the vaccine, we have a dangerously high number of patients," Garza said. "Our numbers are plateauing, but they're plateauing at a dangerously high number."

Watch the entire briefing in the video player below:

The task force provided the following data on Dec. 18:

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) decreased from 121 yesterday to 115 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) decreased – from 117 to 114 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations decreased - from 898 yesterday to 893 today.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 907 yesterday to 854 today.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations increased – from 70 yesterday to 75 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs increased – from 171 yesterday to 175 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators increased – from 107 yesterday to 111 today.
  • The number of COVID deaths decreased – from 20 yesterday to 16 today.
  • The seven-day moving average of COVID deaths decreased – from 22 yesterday to 21 today.
  • Across the system hospitals, 150 COVID-19 patients were discharged to home yesterday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 13,092.
  • Staffed bed hospital capacity is at 83%, an average across task force hospitals. The ICUs are at 88% of their total staffed bed capacity.

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