Nearly 500 people are hospitalized in the St. Louis region with the coronavirus, including 139 requiring ventilators, and the leader of a new pandemic task force is warning that the peak of illnesses isn’t expected until later this month.
Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said Sunday that 468 patients are hospitalized in the St. Louis area, including 164 in intensive care units, the vast majority of whom are on ventilators. The patients have either tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, or are showing symptoms and awaiting test results.
Garza said the number of hospitalized patients is expected to peak in two to three weeks.
“We have every reason to believe that the surge is still coming,” Garza said. “So it is extremely important that we all follow the strategy, which is to stop the spread” through social isolation, frequent hand-washing and other measures.
Monday was the first day Missouri was under a statewide stay-at-home order. Gov. Mike Parson announced the order Friday. It is scheduled to expire on April 24.
Missouri reported 10 more deaths Sunday, bringing the state’s total to 34. However, a database operated by Johns Hopkins University shows 47 deaths in Missouri. The discrepancy could be because Missouri had not required that coronavirus deaths be reported within 24 hours until it changed that policy as of Sunday.
The state health department reported 2,367 confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, up 76 from the 2,291 reported Saturday.
Most infected people develop mild or moderate coronavirus symptoms that clear up within three weeks, such as fever and cough. But older adults and people with existing health problems are particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia.
A suburban St. Louis school district suspended food deliveries to students through this week after the deaths of two bus drivers — one of whom tested positive for the coronavirus and another who had an unrelated illness but showed symptoms of the virus prior to his death.
Ferguson-Florissant Schools Superintendent Joseph Davis said a staff member at the district’s McCluer North High School also tested positive for the coronavirus. Davis said it had been more than 14 days since any of the three employees worked.
Schools have been closed in the St. Louis region since mid-March but many districts continue to provide breakfast and lunch for needy students. The Ferguson-Florissant district uses school buses to deliver to 220 locations in the district, which covers part of north St. Louis County.