CLAYTON — An increase in St. Louis-area COVID-19 rates on Monday prompted renewed words of caution from officials.
St. Louis County reported an average of 273 new COVID-19 cases each day as of Friday, a 30% increase from a week prior, officials said.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the increase was not “a cause for alarm” and said the county was not eyeing any restrictions like mask mandates or occupancy limits. But health officials are monitoring the rise in cases and reemphasizing that masks, testing and COVID-19 vaccines help reduce the risk of infection and serious illness, he said.
The uptick follows a steady rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, shifting the county from a “low” risk category to a “medium” risk category under guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There are times like today where we must pause and provide an update on the virus, especially when cases are rising steadily,” Page said. “This is not a cause for alarm, rather a reminder that COVID-19 is still very much among us and that there are ways to prevent catching it, spreading it, and getting very sick from it.”
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St. Louis city has also reported an increase in case rates, with a seven-day average of 58 new cases on Friday, up 30% from 44 the week before. By comparison, at the lowest point this year, the city’s seven-day average was nine in mid-March.
Hospitalizations in the region have also been gradually increasing over the past month, though the seven-day average of new admissions was 27 on Monday, still below 40, the number the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force has identified in the past as a cause for concern.
A month ago that number hovered below 20. The total number of hospitalized COVID patients in the area rose to 120 on Monday, from a low of 58 on April 17.
Health officials recommend people 50 and older get a second booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, if they have not received one already. The St. Louis County Department of Public Health provides drive-thru COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses at health centers in Berkeley, Jennings and Sunset Hills. No appointments are necessary.
The county also still recommends wearing a mask if someone is high-risk or lives with someone who is, Page said. That includes people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, the elderly, people with other health complications, and children under five, who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
St. Louis County has recorded 3,341 deaths because of COVID-19. They are among the estimated 1 million Americans killed by COVID since the start of the pandemic in early.
Page said it was a “grim milestone.”
“It’s a stunning number,” he said. “So many families touched by the virus, so many families each year marking anniversaries, birthdays and holidays without a loved one who was lost to the pandemic.”
Annika Merrilees of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
COVID-19 cases per 1,000 people in St. Louis County
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