ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – There was hope that by this point in the year, the St. Louis County Public Health Department would be talking about cardiovascular disease, obesity, or any other maladies that endanger the health of residents.
St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page said the rise in COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in southwest Missouri “is a sobering reminder that this pandemic is far from over.”
Mercy Hospital in Springfield reported 116 COVID patients on Monday, July 5. The hospital had to borrow ventilators from other facilities in the Mercy family, including hospitals in the St. Louis area.
Page said St. Louis County is not in as dire straits as the Springfield area, but cautioned that COVID numbers are trending in the wrong direction. The 7-day average for COVID-19 cases jumped 35% in the last week, he said. The county is averaging approximately 90 new cases a day. Just a few weeks ago, that number was in the 20s.
According to the county executive, the Delta variant is driving numbers faster than the vaccination rate.
“That’s not good math,” he said. “And it’s a formula for rapid increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations here.”
Hospitals in St. Louis County are seeing younger COVID patients and most are unvaccinated. Getting vaccinated is the solution, Page said, and it’s time to make it a priority.
“I get it. Teens feel invincible. ‘I’m young, I’m healthy; COVID won’t get me.’ That’s a common refrain,” he said. “But let me add this – you can get very sick from COVID-19. This new Delta variant is even more contagious.”
It’s imperative to get young people vaccinated before the start of the upcoming school year, Page said. It takes more than a month to become fully vaccinated.
Later this week, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health will announce its back to school immunization program, Page said. Free COVID test will be part of that program for eligible families. Students are also eligible to receive their shots, a physical exam, and dental services—free of charge—at the department’s health centers in Berkeley, Pine Lawn, and Sunset Hills. The health centers will be open for extended hours as an added convenience for families.
“It is not hyperbole to say COVID-19 is an imminent threat to those who are unvaccinated,” Page said.
The county runs several walk-in vaccination events at its health centers and county libraries. You can visit STLcorona.com to see the locations and start times for these events.
Page reminded residents that St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and Jefferson County continue to ask residents to wear masks when indoors.
“If you’ve been procrastinating, thinking about getting the shots now is the time to make it a priority,” he said.
The county is working on an incentive plan to entice residents to get the vaccine. Page said details on that plan should be announced within a week.