ST. LOUIS — As Missouri on Tuesday reported record COVID-19 deaths, and hospitalizations climbed in the St. Louis area, officials urged residents to cancel big Thanksgiving plans in hopes of preventing a spike in cases after the holiday.
St. Louis County issued a public health advisory, asking residents to avoid any travel that isn’t absolutely necessary, and refrain from sharing a meal with anyone outside of their immediate household. The advisory also asks residents to self-quarantine for 14 days if they travel or attend a gathering this week, or if they are exposed to someone who tests positive.
Anticipating crowded bars on the evening before Thanksgiving, St. Charles County Public Health Director Demetrius Cianci-Chapman ordered bars and restaurants to close at 11 p.m. for the foreseeable future. In a news release announcing the order, County Executive Steve Ehlmann said hospitals there are on the verge of running out of capacity.
“Other jurisdictions in the area have similar orders in place, and we need to make certain that St. Charles County is not a magnet for those who want to stay out late and party in groups,” Ehlmann said.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, meanwhile, implored residents to cancel travel, and celebrate virtually rather than in groups.
“I believe it’s the only year you’re going to have to do this,” Pritzker said during a briefing.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said that those who ignore officials’ advice must at least commit to separating groups from different households, moving outdoors if the weather permits, and wearing a mask except when actively eating or drinking.
“We have to accept what we’re dealing with: a global pandemic, the likes of which no one has seen before,” Ezike said.
On Tuesday, Missouri reported 189 COVID-19 deaths, the largest number since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Post-Dispatch data.
Of those, 161 occurred in prior weeks, but were only recently identified as virus-related, through a review of death certificates. The Department of Health and Senior Services periodically reviews death certificates to verify fatality numbers. Lately these reviews have found large numbers of previously uncounted coronavirus deaths.
One occurred in September, 41 in October, and 119 earlier this month.
The most recent weeks of data are still incomplete, as death certificates often take two or three weeks to reach the state Department of Health and Senior Services.
The state also reported 3,764 new cases of the virus on Tuesday.
Hospitalizations declined slightly, to 2,680 patients statewide with COVID-19, from 2,809 the day before. But the seven-day average continued to break records, hitting 2,708. Missouri hospitalization data lags three days, and not every hospital reports every day.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported 105 new COVID-19 admissions to BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital facilities in the area. A record 887 confirmed COVID-19 patients were in area hospitals in total.
On average, hospitals here are reporting that 84% of staffed beds and 86% of staffed intensive care unit beds are full, according to the task force.
Illinois reported 125 more COVID-19 deaths, and 9,469 new cases on Tuesday.
For the first time, intensive care unit bed availability dipped below 20% in the Metro East, to 18.8%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Overall bed availability in the region, as of Tuesday, was at 16.5%. The region includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties.
These maps and charts show the spread of COVID-19 in Missouri and Illinois.