COVID Infection Rates Rise 90% In St. Louis, 63% In St. Louis County Over Past 2 Weeks
Updated at 5:55 p.m. with information from the city of St. Louis Coronavirus cases are again on the rise in the St. Louis region.
The St. Louis County Health Department issued a public health advisory Monday morning in the wake of 1,461 new cases reported in the past two weeks, a 63% increase over the previous two-week period. Public officials urged residents experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms to get tested for the coronavirus immediately.
The number of reported cases also is rising in St. Louis, with an average of 31 people testing positive each day. That’s a 90% increase over two weeks ago.
Public officials urged the region’s residents to get COVID-19 vaccine and to seek a coronavirus test if they have coughs, fevers or other coronavirus symptoms.
“The numbers are too startling to ignore,” County Executive Same Page said. “The rapidly rising positivity rate is an indication that not enough people are getting tested.”
Page attributed the rise in cases to the delta coronavirus variant spreading throughout Missouri, which is easier to spread and catch.
“The tidal wave is coming towards our unvaccinated population. This variant is spreading quickly and this variant has the ability to devastate those in its wake," Page said. "That’s why it’s so critical to get vaccinated now.”
Population groups with low vaccination rates are more vulnerable to infection, he said.
As of July 5, the infection rate in north St. Louis County — more than 15 cases per 100,000 people — is more than twice as high as in the rest of the county.
Countywide, Black residents are five times as likely to be infected with the virus than white residents. Young residents are also seeing higher rates of infection. People in their teens, 20s and 30s are four times as likely to be infected as those in their 70s.
The county health department has not observed a rise in hospitalization or fatality rates, but Page predicts those rates also will climb in the coming weeks.
“In St. Louis County, we will not see the full impact of this wave of new infections on mortality for quite some time,” Page said. “We’re hoping the high vaccination rate among older people will help.”
Because people can be sick with the virus long before they show symptoms, it may take days or weeks for hospitalizations to reflect the increase in cases, state health officials said last week.
Officials from hospital systems in southwest Missouri have been forced to transfer patients to other hospitals as beds have filled up following large outbreaks centered around Joplin and Springfield.
Page and county health officials recommend people wear a mask when around indoor crowds even if they are vaccinated. St. Louis County has not implemented capacity restrictions or masking requirements for businesses, but Page said it would if the health department recommends doing so.
The best way for residents to protect themselves is to be fully vaccinated, Page said. The county plans to announce a vaccine incentive program later this week.
“Last year when COVID-19 was spreading quickly, we knew little about the virus and we had no vaccine," he said. "This year, we have an effective vaccine in hand that can prevent serious illness and death and help us avoid the dark moments we experienced most of 2020.”
Read St. Louis County's COVID-19 trends report, July 8:
Sarah Fentem contributed to this report.
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