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Hospital bed, ICU capacity becoming more limited in Missouri

(AP) — Hospital beds across Missouri are nearly four-fifths full, and capacity is even more limited in intensive care units as the coronavirus pandemic continues its autumn surge.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services cited 2,805 hospitalizations statewide on Monday – double the number from a month ago. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard notes that just 21% of capacity remains at hospitals, and ICU capacity is down to 17%.

Bed capacity is at 13% in northwestern Missouri, 17% in the St. Louis region and 19% in Kansas City. ICU capacity is at 13% in the southwestern part of the state and in St. Louis.

More than 100 patients are hospitalized at CoxHealth facilities in Springfield and elsewhere in the Ozarks region.

“Not a milestone any of us wanted to reach. We need to reverse direction. We can’t pretend this isn’t real. We can’t wish it away. We can’t hope somebody does something,” Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer for Mercy Springfield, wrote on Twitter.

Missouri Hospital Association spokesman David Dillon said staffing shortages at hospitals were also a major concern.

“Hospitals are experiencing staff shortages not just related to the high levels of utilization, but because our staff are sidelined with the virus, through quarantine and because of the influence of COVID-19 on their lives,” Dillon said in an email.

Health care leaders across the state are urging Missourians to wear masks, and many are warning that people should avoid large gatherings – even family gatherings – on Thanksgiving.

The pandemic is taking a toll on travel. While St. Louis Lambert International Airport is seeing increased passengers this week, overall numbers are expected to fall well short of what is typical for the days around Thanksgiving.

“We’re anticipating that we’ll see about 50% of the levels of 2019 or about a 5-to-10% increase in what we’ve been seeing in the last few weeks,” Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, the airport’s director, told St. Louis Public Radio.

The state reported 3,370 new confirmed cases and two more deaths on Monday. All told, Missouri has reported 274,897 confirmed cases and 3,561 deaths since the pandemic began. The seven-day positivity rate is 20.4%.

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