CoronavirusNewsThe SouthSider

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at home, city health officials urge

CITY HALL – “Staggering” numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in St. Louis have prompted the city’s Department of Health to ask people to avoid social gatherings of any kind this New Year’s weekend. Health experts are urging city residents and visitors to celebrate at home. 

The seven-day average positivity rate has climbed to 24%, the highest the city has seen since the department reported its first positive COVID-19 case on March 16, 2020. Cases of COVID-19 in the city have more than doubled from the week starting Dec. 14 to the week starting Dec. 21 and are expected to continue climbing. 

Hospitalizations are also rising, with the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force [] reporting 735 people hospitalized with the virus as of Dec. 30. For contrast, on Nov. 1 there were 238 COVID-19 patients in area hospitals.

“If you ever questioned the seriousness of the pandemic, let this data open your eyes,” said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, the city’s Director of Health. “We are reaching a new crisis, as two highly contagious variants are sweeping through our communities. We plead with you, do not take any unnecessary risks by attending large gatherings. If you do, you may be endangering yourself and your community if we continue this case trajectory.”

Mayor Tishaura Jones joined in, saying: “COVID-19 is still a serious threat; hundreds of St. Louisans, myself included, have lost family and friends to this virus.”

Jones continued, “As cases rise to their highest level since the pandemic began, I’m urging families to keep taking precautions to protect themselves heading into the New Year and follow recommendations from health and hospital experts. Avoid large gatherings as we close out the holiday season, and as we enter 2022, continue to wear your mask, stand six feet apart when possible, and most importantly, make sure you are fully vaccinated and boosted.”

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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