ST. LOUIS (AP) — Drops in coronavirus transmission rates in the St. Louis area are beginning to stall, raising concerns that residents are dropping their guard too soon and that caseloads could soon rise again.
The number of daily new coronavirus infections fell precipitously after a peak in January. Missouri’s seven-day average dropped last month to below 500 a day, for the first time since last summer. At the same time, the St. Louis region’s daily average hospital admissions tumbled to 35, the lowest in eight months.
Meanwhile, the region is now on track to reach widespread immunity by late June — with about 75 percent of the adult population vaccinated — an expectation weeks better than the mid-August estimates made just last month.
Yet state and regional caseloads and hospitalizations have now stalled at current levels for about four weeks.
“Everyone is in this prevention-methods burnout phase,” said Tim Wiemken, a St. Louis University professor and infectious disease expert. “The weather is getting nicer, and people are just over it.”
There also are concerns that more infectious versions of the virus may be boosting to caseloads, adding urgency to the vaccination effort.
“That’s the race here, and it’s neck and neck for the foreseeable future,” Wiemken said.