St. Louis health officials urge residents to wear masks as COVID cases surge | Coronavirus

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis and St. Louis County health officials on Monday issued a renewed plea for residents to wear masks in indoor, public spaces, as hospitals reported a growing wave of virus patients.

The city and county are once again seeing high levels of virus transmission. And with at-home test kits now widely used, health authorities warn that infections are significantly undercounted.

“The data is clearly telling us we have to take action to reduce the cases,” St. Louis Health Director Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis said in a statement. “We all need to do our part. We know that masks minimize the transmission of the virus and we can expect a decline in cases and a decline in hospitalizations if our community voluntarily masks up during this critical time.”

Hlatshwayo Davis and St. Louis County Acting Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan issued a joint statement Monday strongly recommending that residents wear masks in indoor, public places and in crowded areas where social distancing isn’t possible.

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Case rates in the city and county have surpassed those seen during the delta variant-driven surge last summer that prompted renewed mask mandates. Schnuck Markets Inc. is once again requiring workers to wear masks in St. Louis and St. Louis County stores, and the Gateway Arch National Park is requiring them for visitors as of Monday. The number of COVID-19 patients in the region’s hospitals has doubled in less than a month.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported a total of 201 COVID-19 patients across area hospitals on Monday — the highest number in three months.

The seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 admissions was 43 — compared with a low of 16 in early April. In the past, the task force has identified an average of 40 as a level of concern.

Six COVID-19 patients have died in St. Louis-area hospitals over the past week, the task force reported.

The numbers include area BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health, St. Luke’s Hospital, and U.S. Veterans Affairs hospitals. Task force data lags two days.

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