CITY HALL – After holding steady for a few weeks, coronavirus numbers are back on the rise in St. Louis. Right now, the city’s numbers “still look decent, but they definitely are heading up,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said in her livestreamed press conference on Monday.
The virus is still roaring across the nation, with more than 8 million confirmed infections and 220,000 deaths. Missouri has had 162,000 cases and 2,648 deaths. St. Louis’ totals are 7,891 cases, 218 of them fatal.
Krewson explained that the seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations had hit 46, “the highest average we’ve had,” she said.
Two categories are boosting the infection rate: Rural areas, and young adults. Recently, the counties surrounding St. Louis have registered COVID-19 surges, with many of their residents being brought here for hospital care.
The city’s health director, Dr. Fredrick Echols, stepped up to further explain and reinforce Krewson’s message.
“In the city … we’ve experienced a little over 20 percent increase in the number of new cases that are being reported daily,” Echols reported. He then put the figure at about 22 percent.
People ages 20-29 are still registering the highest infection rate, so the city is working with social media, trying to grow better awareness of guidelines such as social distancing, wearing face masks, washing hands, and staying home if not feeling well.
Echols explained that school-age youth currently account for less than 8 percent of the total reported cases, “but there is potential for that number to increase as schools resume in-person learning.” So the city is working with the schools to be sure they have proper procedures in place and to answer any questions that come up.
Also, as more workers are returning to their places of employment, the city is seeing an increase in workplace-related exposures, Echols said. He pleaded with workers to pay attention to how they’re feeling, and if they feel ill, to notify their supervisors or whatever they had to do, and stay home.
“If you can,” Echols added. “Please stay home.”
That not only helps protect a person and his or her coworkers; it helps protect the business itself. If workers stay healthy, the organization can stay open. So it’s protecting people’s paychecks, too.
In response to a question about the city’s community spread rate, Echols said that it was still low, holding around one. That means that most infected people aren’t spreading the virus to others, preventing an exponential rate of spread. But that rate could go up, he warned.
Echols addressed the issue of young adults’ spreading the virus at a high rate compared with others.
“I was 20 at one point in my lifetime, and so I understand that sense of invincibililty,” he acknowledged. But he asked them to consider the potential consequence of spreading the coronavirus to family and friends who may be much more vulnerable.
“Don’t think about COVID-19 as something that only impacts you. It can impact the entire community.”
So, he advised, think about those other people who are depending on you to do the right thing.
Right now, the city’s 63116 and 63109 ZIP codes are among the hotspots for COVID-19, Echols said. City officials are focusing efforts there to educate and remind people about how to protect themselves and their neighbors.