ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — Here are the latest COVID-19 updates for the St. Louis area.
Saturday, Nov. 14
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force on Saturday said the region reached a new record high with the seven-day average of new COVID-19 hospital admissions and total hospitalizations. The task force said the average for new admissions reached 107 and average of total hospitalizations reached a high of 653.
A total of 710 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized as of Saturday and 147 of them were in intensive care units.
Missouri health officials reported on Saturday the state’s biggest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases amid record hospitalizations across the state.
Missouri now has 235,722 positive cases, an increase of 6,346 cases. The death toll rose by 14 to 3,373 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ website.
Hospitalizations across the state also hit a record of 2,523, an increase of about 23% in one week
The seven-day average of new cases reached 3,996. Missouri is now seeing 28,000 new cases per week, or an average of 4,000 new cases per day, health officials said. During the previous week, the rate was 2,800 new cases per day.
Dr. Randall Williams, the state health department’s director, released the following statement about the new numbers, asking people to take precautions. Click here to read his statement.
Friday, Nov. 13
St. Louis County’s top prosecutor said his office will deal with all credible allegations of people and businesses violating the county’s new COVID-19 restrictions.
“While we place a higher priority on many more destructive crimes than violations of these reasonable public health orders, we will not tolerate irresponsible behavior that puts our seniors, those with underlying health issues, or any of our residents in harm’s way,” Wesley Bell said in a statement Friday.
Bell said wrongdoing allegations will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Read more here.
Governor Mike Parson’s office responded on Friday to Dr. Garza’s request for more statewide restrictions amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.
Kelli Jones, a spokeswoman for Parson, released the following statement:
“Governor Mike Parson has led with a balanced approach since day one of this pandemic and will continue to do so. He and his administration monitor data and work closely with the Missouri Hospital Association and our panel of infectious disease doctors to monitor the statewide health care system and capacity. Our entire administration is here to support our health care workers and health care delivery system. Missouri’s COVID-19 numbers are up and continue to increase. It is imperative that Missourians take personal responsibility and social distance, wear a mask, practice personal hygiene, and limit their gatherings.
Governor Parson has been very clear and consistent about his support for local control. Every individual MUST take action to minimize the spread of COVID-19.”
Comments on Friday was Garza’s most direct public plea to the governor to implement stricter policies to stop the spread. Garza called the virus’ spread “incredible” and said if the current trends keep up, St. Louis hospitals will see double the amount of patients in just two weeks.
“At that point we would not have the capacity we need to sufficiently care for our patients – not just COVID patients – but all patients,” Garza said. “The best time to act was really yesterday. But a good time to act is now.”
St. Louis hospitalization levels have steadily risen over the last few weeks.
Members of health departments across the area gathered to provide a virtual update Friday morning on how their communities are handling the pandemic. Representatives from St. Louis County, St. Louis City and St. Clair County were in attendance.
Across each community, the officials stressed mask wearing and limiting social gatherings. In addition, they urged people to rethink how they plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, with Spring Schmidt from the St. Louis County Health Department disclosing that she would meet with family over Zoom to celebrate the holiday.
As positivity rates increase across the area, Dr. Alex Garza with the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force said there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the positive news of a vaccine, but the tunnel is fairly long. While the region is preparing for vaccine distribution, it will not be available for large numbers of people right away and will go to those most in need.
Thursday, Nov. 12
St. Louis City Mayor Lyda Krewson announced gatherings of more than 10 people will be prohibited in the city starting Saturday.
Krewson tweeted the announcement Thursday saying, “over the last few weeks, especially after Halloween, it’s no secret we continue to see a resurgence of new #COVID19 cases and hospitalizations.”
A spokesperson for St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the county will limit gatherings back to 10 people, bring businesses capacity down to 25% and ban indoor dining. Page will officially announce these restrictions Friday morning. Download our App to watch the news conference live.
Like many parts of the St. Louis area, there’s been a sharp increase in cases in St. Charles County. Despite that reality, the county refuses to put more restrictions in place.
St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann questions whether greater restrictions will lead to better numbers.
“Is there somewhere else where greater restrictions have made a difference? Love to know about it and we will consider adopting some or all of them,” said Ehlmann.
New restrictions to be announced Friday
County Executive Dr. Sam Page will announce new COVID-19 restrictions in St. Louis County Friday.
Page will make a series of announcements on new restrictions that will be put in place in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, his office said.
A total shutdown is not likely to be on the table, a spokesman said, but the measures will entail restrictions on capacity.
“I am deeply concerned that not everyone is taking personal responsibility in following public health orders,” said Dr. Page. “Our hospitals are filling up, our health workers are overwhelmed and exhausted and we continue to break records daily in the number of new cases and in the number of patients our hospitals are tending to. Everybody needs to be all-in if we are going to get control of this virus.”
Pritzker: Time is running out
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker on Thursday warned his state that options are running out to control the coronavirus spread.
Pritzker said several communities have been defying orders in the past months and if they keep doing so, he said he’ll take more extreme measures.
“With many community leaders choosing not to listen to the doctors, we are left with not many tools in our toolbox to fight this. The numbers don’t lie,” Pritzker said. “If things don’t take a turn in the coming days we will quickly reach the point when some form of mandatory stay-at-home order is all that will be left. With every fiber of my being, I do not want us to get there but right now, that seems like where we are heading.”
The number of people hospitalized in St. Louis with COVID-19 went up again Thursday, with the virus showing no signs of letting up in the area.
As of Thursday, 681 people were in St. Louis area hospitals with confirmed COVID-19. Another 165 people in the hospital are suspected of having the virus, but test results are pending.
The 681 people in the hospital is the most since the virus outbreak began in March.
St. Louis County questions Parson’s K-12 guidance
The St. Louis County Department of Health responded to Governor Parson’s k-12 COVID-19 guidance, saying “now is not the time to weaken our quarantine policies. Doing so would reduce the effectiveness of one of the most powerful tools we have to prevent spread.”
A statement from the health department added, “every part of the state is unique, but schools in St. Louis County have seen significant transmissions of COVID-19 among teachers and students. Cases and hospitalizations in our region are surging….The advice also contravenes guidance from the CDC. For these reasons, we have no final decision on adopting the state’s recommendations and will continue to use our data to protect this community.”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced new guidance aimed at keeping more kids, teachers and staff in school, even those who have been exposed to the coronavirus.
The Republican governor says quarantines interrupt learning and create staff shortages.
The University of Missouri will temporarily shift to remote learning after Thanksgiving.
While the university reports an 80% decrease in active cases since Labor Day weekend, the decision to go to remote learning for the last three weeks of the semester was based on a surge in cases in the broader Columbia/Boone County community.
Illinois officials on Thursday announced a new record for daily COVID-19 cases reported in a single day.
The state reported 12,702 new cases, which is up from the previous two days, in which records had been set.
The 5,258 hospital patients is also a record mark, topping the number reached in late April, after officials scrambled to construct a mobile field hospital at the monstrous McCormick Place Convention Center and rehabilitated sections of in several Chicago-area hospitals for fear of running out of traditional beds.
Missouri sets new case records
Missouri on Thursday reported a new record number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day. The state said 4,603 people tested positive in the last 24 hours as the positivity rate ticked up to 22.4 percent, also a record.
Antidepressant may prevent COVID-19 patients from developing serious symptoms
A study conducted by Washington University shows that a drug prescribed for depression and related conditions may prevent COVID-19 patients from developing serious symptoms.
According to the study, fluvoxamine, which is used for depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, prevented serious complications, and made the need for hospitalization and oxygen less likely in COVID-19 patients.
The study involved 152 COVID-19 patients recovering at home, 80 patients were given the drug and 72 were given the placebo over a two-week period.
Parson relaxes Missouri’s K-12 school quarantine guidance
Modifications to Missouri’s K-12 school reopening and operating guidance were announced Thursday morning.
Governor Mike Parson was joined by officials from the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education during a press conference Thursday morning to announce the modifications after large numbers of school students and staff members were quarantined in recent weeks across the state.
The new guidance stresses proper mask wearing may prevent people from being identified as close contacts in K-12 schools. According to the guidance, if two people wore masks and one tested positive for COVID-19 then the exposed individual will not need to quarantine as long as they do not show symptoms.
Anyone deemed a close contact should still quarantine for 14 days if the school does not require masks or if a mask was not worn by the person with the coronavirus or the person who was exposed.
Illinois officials urge residents to stay at home amid spike
The Illinois Department of Health is asking residents to only leave home for “essential activities” to help decease the COVID-19 positivity rate.
After the state’s seven-day positivity rate reached 13.6% from Nov. 4-Nov. 10, the health department released the guidelines in an effort to slow the spread.
The guidelines ask that residents work from home, participate in only essential activities and limit travel and gatherings for the next three weeks.
Wednesday, Nov. 11
New restrictions coming to St. Louis County
New COVID-19 restrictions in St. Louis County could be announced as soon as Thursday, a spokesman for County Executive Sam Page said.
The restrictions are being considered as the number of COVID-19 cases in the St. Louis area continues to rise and hospitalizations surge. Wednesday, the number of coronavirus patients admitted to St. Louis-area hospitals hit a new record. Illinois also set a single-day record for COVID-19 cases Wednesday.
A total shutdown is not likely to be on the table, a spokesman said, but the measures will entail restrictions on capacity.