ST. LOUIS (AP) — Area hospitals are filling up with coronavirus patients at an alarming rate, and experts say many of those patients are coming from other areas of the state.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City area over the past week recorded its highest number of deaths over a one-week period, with more than 80 people dying from COVID-19.
Missouri is among dozens of states across the U.S. seeing a spike in confirmed cases and hospitalizations related to the coronavirus. The state health department announced on Tuesday 1,695 additional confirmed cases and 28 more deaths. The state has reported 172,717 cases and 2,838 deaths since the pandemic began.
As of Monday evening, the city of St. Louis had had 8,239 positive cases, with 129 more suspected and 211 deaths.
Hospitalizations statewide remain high, with 1,407 people in Missouri hospitals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 illnesses as of Saturday, the most recent date available.
St. Louis-area hospital officials are urging people to take precautions to slow the spread of the virus, warning that the region’s hospitals are at about 90% capacity.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported Monday a seven-day average of 360 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, the worst since May. The seven-day average of new COVID-19 admissions was 52, the highest since early April.
“Think about what this means to you and your family member, if you get sick,” said Dr. Alex Garza, who heads the task force. “Will there be a hospital to be able to care for you? Will they have space for your family member? Will the doctors, and the nurses, and the techs be on top of their game, or will they be exhausted and fatigued?”
In the early days of the pandemic, most people hospitalized in the St. Louis region were local. Now, “We’re getting patients from everywhere,” Garza said. “We have requests for transfers from hundreds of miles away.”
Across the state, the region that includes Kansas City along with Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas has recorded 735 deaths since the pandemic began. But The most recent seven-day period was the most deadly, according to data compiled by the Kansas City Star.
The newspaper reported 81 deaths for the period of Oct. 20-26, and 163 deaths since the start of October.
“We are now what looks like moving into our third wave of this outbreak and that’s very, very concerning,” said Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City Health Department. “We’re very concerned about this surge and as we move more and more indoors, this is going to become even more problematic.”
The state said a data-entry problem that skewed hospitalization numbers for more than a week was fixed on Monday.
Last week, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ coronavirus dashboard had a message that said the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 had been underreported since Oct. 17 because of “challenges entering data” to the portal used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for collecting daily hospitalizations around the country.
It remains unclear how many other states had been affected by the HHS portal issue because some states do not use the federal agency’s data collection.
An HHS spokeswoman did not respond to a question about other states but said the issues in Missouri had been caused by a need to incorporate additional data elements on the state’s dashboard.