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Echols: All St. Louis COVID-19 deaths have been African Americans

Echols: All St. Louis COVID-19 deaths have been African Americans

Press conference with Mayor Lyda Krewson

File photo. Dr. Fredrick Echols (pictured) in a press conference announcing his hire to serve as director of the St. Louis Department of Health on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at City Hall in downtown St. Louis. Photo by Cristina M. Fletes,

ST. LOUIS — Officials said Wednesday that all of the people in the city who've died from complications related to COVID-19 were African American. 

There have been 12 people in St. Louis who have died as of Wednesday. The city now has more than 480 cases of people infected with the coronavirus.

“If you look at the health disparities in the city of St. Louis, they’re not unique,” city Health Director Dr. Fredrick Echols said during a briefing Wednesday. “Inequities exist across the U.S. and across the world, and it’s posed a challenge for public health agencies, (which) have to address those issues and ensure all individuals, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, income, or educational attainment have access to quality health-related resources.”

Several U.S. metro regions have reported that African Americans are suffering infections at higher rates. It's been difficult to determine if that's the case in the St. Louis region or across Missouri because health officials are generally not disclosing the racial breakdown of victims.

Echols disclosed the racial background of the St. Louis victims in a piece he wrote for the St. Louis American.

Health officials also said Wednesday that it's likely the city's stay-at-home order will be extended because cases of COVID-19 continue to climb.

The current order is scheduled to expire April 22.

Echols said officials were "looking at the data" to determine the next steps.

“Based on what we’re currently seeing, with the increase in cases daily as well as the increase in the number of deaths, it is likely we’ll have to extend the stay-at-home order,” Echols said. “However, things may change. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

Echols also said state officials have agreed to provide the city with a rapid testing machine so that people potentially exposed to the virus can be tested more quickly.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lyda Krewson said officials were working to get housing set up in the city for homeless people as quickly as possible. 

Updated at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday with city health director saying those who've died from COVID-19 in St. Louis were all African American.

• Cases in Missouri by date

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