Victor Stefanescu, Jul 19, 2021
COVID-19 positivity rates are climbing in St. Louis County while vaccination rates hover around national figures. County Executive Dr. Sam Page hopes new vaccination initiatives, and not new restrictions to curb the virus, can turn things around.
“[We are] focused on getting people vaccinated so we don't have to return to restrictions,” Page said on Monday morning at a media briefing. “Vaccines allow children to return safely to the classroom. Vaccines allow us to return to our offices. And vaccines allow us to avoid serious illness from this virus.”
Metro-area hospitals are getting hit hard, too.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force announced six news COVID-19 related deaths on Monday. Confirmed inpatient COVID-19 positive hospitalizations increased to 264 on Monday from 247 Sunday, and the seven-day moving average of people admitted into area hospitals with COVID-19 remains at 39, according to a release.
The numbers are even more alarming for Missouri as a whole. Average daily cases in the state have more than doubled to 1,981 on Sunday from 979 on July 4 — a 102 percent increase — according to the Times’ dashboard.
To battle these numbers, Page announced two initiatives to increase vaccination rates among the county’s residents within the past week.
Anyone twelve or older, along with their guardians, can receive a COVID-19 vaccination as part of St. Louis County’s annual back-to-school immunization program, Page announced at Monday’s briefing.
COVID-19 vaccination rates for younger age groups fall behind those for older groups: 55 percent of people twelve and older in St. Louis County are fully vaccinated, compared to 79 percent of people 65 and older, according to the Times’ dashboard.
“Our kids are going back to the classroom this month and we need to do everything we can to prepare them,” Page says. “And that's why we're making the COVID-19 vaccine available at all three of our health clinics.”
Shots will be available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., until September 17 at three health clinics: 6121 N. Hanley Road, 4000 Jennings Station Road and 580 S. Lindbergh Boulevard.
“Sleeves Up STL,” another effort Page first announced last week, aims to distribute information that vaccines are safe, effective and free into north county communities through barber shops and beauty salons.
“We know that barbershops and beauty salons are trusted places in many communities, places where people not only go to take care of their hair, but also to discuss current events and issues,” he says. “And we believe that vaccines ought to be part of those conversations.”
On Monday, the St. Louis Department of Public Health will begin recruiting 50 salons and barbershops to participate in the initiative, Page says. Shop owners will receive posters, flyers and other materials to facilitate discussions. The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is also providing thousands of masks to the businesses, he says.
As things stand now, Page says the county is not vaccinating people fast enough.
“We are not where we need to be in vaccinations,” Page says. “We're not, we're not close. And we really need to turn up our efforts.”