BERKELEY — St. Louis County is seeing a spike in cases of COVID-19, health officials warned Wednesday.
The seven-day average of new cases per day reached 213 on Wednesday, up from 152 two weeks ago, according to data from the St. Louis County Department of Health.
“Given this recent trend, as well as the rapid increase in cases of influenza in our area, DPH continues to strongly encourage residents to use available resources to slow the spread of respiratory viruses,” the health department said in a press release.
Tools include a flu shot as well as the latest COVID-19 booster, which offers better protection against the latest variants of the virus; Wearing a mask in crowded indoor areas, washing hands and isolating when sick.
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Federal data shows that nationwide only 12.7% of people over the age of 5 who received their primary COVID-19 vaccination received the updated booster shot. In Missouri it’s only 11.6%.
dr Farrin Manian, infectious disease physician and chair of the medical department at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, said any effort will help protect those most at risk of ending up in the hospital — the elderly and the immunocompromised — and ensure that enough doctors are available and nurses are available to take care of anyone who needs it.
“Our healthcare system is already stretched, and any small increase in demand on the system can be worrying,” Manian said, “not just for care for COVID or flu patients, but for care for non-infectious disease-related conditions.”
Crowded waiting rooms could also discourage people from seeking the care they need, he said.
COVID-19 vaccinations are available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the John C. Murphy Health Center in Berkeley, the South County Health Center in Sunset Hills, and the North Central Community Health Center in Jennings
Flu vaccinations are also possible in the three health centers from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. It is not necessary to make an appointment.
Free testing for COVID-19, flu, and RSV is available Tuesdays at the John C. Murphy Health Center and Thursdays at the South County Health Center. GPs also offer tests. If you use an at-home COVID-19 test from a drugstore, you can report a positive result online at revivestl.com.
Data shows COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing across Missouri.
Missouri recorded 7,486 cases of COVID-19 in the week ended November 27, up from 4,907 in the week ended November 13.
The University of Missouri sewage monitor, which looks for evidence of the virus that causes COVID-19 at more than 70 sewage collection sites statewide, shows locations in each region where viral loads have risen by 40% or more in the last week or so 25% or more in the last two weeks.
Community levels of COVID-19 — which are determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and take into account cases and hospitalizations — are moderate in Kansas City and St. Louis and many of their surrounding counties.
Eight counties in the northwest corner of Missouri are at high community levels, as are four northeast counties that border the Illinois border—Pike, Ralls, Marion, and Lewis counties.
When the community level is high, everyone is encouraged to wear a quality mask in public, not just those at high risk or in contact with high-risk individuals.
Hospital admissions for COVID-19 are rising while hospitals also grapple with their worst flu season in over a decade.
In Missouri, the average number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 over seven days reached 874 on Dec. 2, up from Nov. 19 when it was 706, state data shows.
The latest data through November 26 shows that flu cases continue to rise dramatically in Missouri. Nearly 6.6% of emergency room visits were for flu symptoms in the week before Nov. 26, state health data shows, up from 4.7% the week before.
Manian said it’s not known how much worse this respiratory season will get, especially as holiday shopping and gatherings bring more people together indoors.
“The flu season lasts for several weeks, not just a few days. We’re still at the beginning here,” he said. “Things we can do to try and reduce our chances of a crisis situation occurring on the part of the public will be very helpful.”