Staying safe during reopening is doable, Garza encourages

Staying safe during reopening is doable, Garza encourages

ST. LOUIS – The region’s work in minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has been “really remarkable,” Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said Monday.

Garza praised the efforts, noting the achievement of reaching the milestones necessary to begin restarting many businesses.

However, he warned, the virus hasn’t left us. And the underlying situation hasn’t changed: The virus is “still contagious and still dangerous.”

“None of us wants to see a second wave of the virus,” Garza stressed, telling listeners that social distancing, hand-washing, face masks and the whole range of safety practices would be more important than ever.

“Our region has made some really significant sacrifices over the past two months to flatten the curve and significantly suppress the virus,” he said. “However, we also know that we’re never going to be at zero transmission until there’s a vaccine. And so we have to learn how to live with the virus.”

We can gradually continue to reopen the economy, he said, but “only if we learn how to dance with the virus” by maintaining those new social practices.

Garza presented the coronavirus statistics as of Monday, which he pointed out were a few days old because of the lag in reporting time. The day-by-day figures aren’t as important as the overall average, he reminded viewers.

The rolling average of hospitalizations shows a steady decline with the seven-day average at 487.

There were 32 new coronavirus patients Monday, for a total of 109, down from 121 the day before. Seventy-six of those were on ventilators, up from 75; and 12 patients had been discharged, making the total 1,892.

We must continue the “proven practices” that have led us to this point, Garza emphasized.

A questioner asked about the new syndrome affecting some children who have been infected with COVID-19.

The two area pediatric hospitals, St. Louis Children’s and Cardinal Glennon, together have three or four cases that fit the parameters of the syndrome, Garza answered. There may be more cases as more data are collected.

As childcare centers reopen, they will need to maintain meticulous hygiene, he said, and we may see more cases.

But they are “still extremely rare,” he reassured the questioner. The cases usually older children, who usually recover well. No child so far has died from COVID-19 in Missouri.

Starting next week, the task force briefings will be cut down to one a week, usually on Monday afternoons. Next Monday is Memorial Day, he noted, so at least for that week, the briefing will be on Tuesday.

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