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As coronavirus cases mount in Missouri, St. Louis regional task force ramps up briefings again

As coronavirus cases mount in Missouri, St. Louis regional task force ramps up briefings again

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As coronavirus cases in Missouri continue to mount, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force will increase the frequency of its virus briefings.

Statewide, Missouri reported 19,914 cumulative cases of the virus Friday, including 493 new cases. The southwest part of the state continues to drive the recent uptick in cases.

The confirmed case total in Missouri has risen 1.5% over the past day, and 10% over the last week. Meanwhile, 990 deaths in the state have been attributed to the virus thus far.

Illinois public health officials announced 857 new known cases of the disease on Friday, after confirming 894 new cases the day before.

In the St. Louis region, there were 11 new hospital admissions linked to the virus announced Friday, which continues a general downward trend of local hospitalizations. St. Louis County, however, reported nine new coronavirus deaths, marking its highest total since May 23.

The growing scale and severity of the outbreak nationally has prompted the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force to ramp up the frequency of briefings again. The unit had formerly held daily media briefings but had scaled back to weekly addresses with live question-and-answer sessions.

In addition to Friday’s originally unscheduled news conference, the group will also hold the briefings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week.

“We’ve decided to increase our daily briefings really because of the increase in activity nationally, to the pandemic, and just bring a little bit more awareness to the fact that we’re really not out of this,” said Dr. Alex Garza, chief medical officer with SSM Health and the head of the task force.

Despite the spikes and ensuing orders to close gathering places such as bars in states such as Texas and Florida, Garza said he believes Missouri has not reached a point where similar action is needed at this time.

“That doesn’t translate to, ‘We should start relaxing,’” he said.

Garza emphasized that individuals need to continue to exercise caution, including behaviors such as social distancing and wearing masks. Doing so, he said, is crucial to avoid worsening the outbreak and negating local progress in the fight against the disease, accrued over weeks and months.

“We don’t want all that sacrifice to go to waste, and this is especially true with a holiday weekend coming up, around the corner,” Garza said. “It’s a very delicate time right now for us in the metropolitan area.”

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