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St. Louis County health officials again warn of rising COVID-19 cases, urge masks

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COVID-19 Testing

Janese Barney of Florissant is given take-home COVID-19 tests by Antualisa Johnson, an agency nurse with Favorite Healthcare Staffing, outside of the John C. Murphy Health Center in Berkeley on June 6, 2022. Photo by Jack Myer, jmyer@post-dispatch.com

The St. Louis County Department of Health issued another alert Wednesday warning of a continued rise in COVID-19 cases and asking that residents wear masks in public indoor spaces.

The seven-day average of new cases reached 414 new cases per day, a 15% percent increase over the previous seven-day period, according to county health officials.

The county’s 22% positivity rate means nearly one in four residents getting tested have COVID-19 and many cases are likely going undetected.

The warning follows a joint statement on Monday by both the St. Louis city and county health department directors, reporting high levels of virus transmission and strongly recommending wearing masks in crowded public spaces.

The city and county, along with St. Charles County, are reporting the highest COVID-19 rates in the state, according to the New York Times data tracker. Overall, Missouri has seen a 32% increase in coronavirus cases over the past two weeks and a 29% increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Case and hospitalization levels put St. Louis city and St. Louis County in the high-risk category by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when federal officials also urge residents to wear masks, get tested if have symptoms and get vaccinated or boosted if haven’t yet.

“If you feel sick, please stay home and get tested,” county health officials urged in Wednesday’s press release.

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.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the St. Louis region hospitals has doubled in less than a month, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force weekly report from Monday.

The report showed a total of 201 COVID-19 patients across area hospitals — the highest number in three months. Six patients had died of COVID-19 in previous six days.

The numbers include area BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health, St. Luke’s Hospital, and U.S. Veterans Affairs hospitals.

The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, for everyone ages 5 years and older. The timing and number of boosters are different depending on your age, the vaccine you first received and time since last dose.

Check the CDC’s “Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 Vaccines” website or talk to your doctor or nurse to learn the latest recommendations.

The St. Louis County Health Department also asks that residents use its COVID-19 website to report positive tests results of at-home COVID-19 tests by clicking “Report At-Home Tests.”

Originally posted at 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 8.

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