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12 People Have Died Of COVID-19 In St. Louis — All Were Black

Fredrick Echols, director of the St. Louis Department of Health, speaks about the city's response to COVID-19 during a news conference at City Hall on March 12, 2020.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Fred Echols, director of the St. Louis Department of Health, wrote in a letter published in the St. Louis American that all 12 people who had died of COVID-19 in St. Louis as of Wednesday were African American.

Updated at 8:18 p.m. with more information from St. Louis officials

All 12 people in St. Louis who have died of COVID-19 were African Americans, the city’s health director wrote today in the St. Louis American.

Dr. Fred Echols wrote in an op-ed that the pandemic points to the local health disparities; black residents often lack access to health care and have a high incidence of diabetes and heart conditions.

He said the city needs more testing sites to slow the spread of the virus. 

“Obviously, for many of us in the black community, this access is more easily said than done,” Echols wrote.

During a Facebook Live session with Mayor Lyda Krewson, Echols said the city likely will have to extend its stay-at-home order beyond April 22.

“Based on what we’re currently seeing, with the increase in cases daily, as well as the increase in the number of deaths daily, it is likely that we will need to extend the order,” Echols said. “However, things may change. We continue to monitor the situation daily, and we will be implementing a data-driven and academic process whether or not to extend the stay-at-home order.”

Krewson announced that a third testing site is opening in north St. Louis, at 2425 Whittier St. It will be run by Care STL.

Patients with symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough and shortness of breath, must call 314-367-5820 to make an appointment for testing.

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

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Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.