Jefferson County officials ask public to mask up

Dr. Jacob Peyton, left, and Dr. Karthik Iyer pose for a portrait outside Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Festus on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. They are part of a group of physicians that wrote an open letter to the community urging people to wear masks to help slow an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases in the area. (Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com)

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Updated with comments from the Missouri Hospital Association:

The number of patients hospitalized because of COVID-19 across Missouri reached a record of more than 1,400 on Tuesday, according to a weekly email newsletter from the Missouri Hospital Association.

Technical issues have silenced Missouri's public dashboard of COVID-19 data since Saturday, but the Missouri Hospital Association updates its data and sends out a newsletter each week.

The number of hospitalizations eclipses previous records set the week before, when hospitalizations topped 1,300 for the first time and remained there for three consecutive days, until the state's last dashboard entry for Oct. 9. The biggest increases this week were seen in the northern and southern regions of the state.

“Whether we’re in a second wave, or the second crest of the first, our current situation is critical, especially outside of the well-resourced metro areas,” said association spokesman Dave Dillon.

The availability of patient beds in intensive care units continues to decrease statewide, the newsletter also reported.

The percent of ICU beds available in the state’s northwest region fell to just 19%, which was half compared to the previous week. Across the state, less than 31% of ICU beds were available.

Hospitals in the southwest and central Missouri are also reaching capacity in their intensive care units, Dillon said. “All hospitals are working to manage to their resources, but staff and space are at a premium and these resources are finite.”

The newsletter warns that the percent of coronavirus tests coming back positive is more than 10% in all regions of the state, a dangerous sign of widespread community transmission.

Missourians must reduce transmission of the virus by social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands, Dillon said. “Until we accomplish that, we won’t be able to address the hospital utilization challenge.”

The St. Louis area and northeast Missouri are leading the state in controlling the rate of infections, he said, but St. Louis area hospitals on Wednesday reported troublesome signs.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported a big jump in hospital admissions — to 63, up from 44 the day before.

The increase pushed the seven-day average of daily admissions to 44, which has been on a steady rise since Oct. 5, when the average was 34, according to task force's data.

The seven-day average number of patients in area hospitals with COVID-19 increased to 287 which has been on the increase since Oct. 8 when the average number was 249.

Michele Munz • 314-340-8263

@michelemunz on Twitter

mmunz@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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