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Pandemic Task Force Leader Dr. Alex Garza Talks Coronavirus Peak, More

Medical workers at Mercy Health's drive-through novel coronavirus test collection site are gathering samples from patients daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (March 16, 2020)
File Photo| Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Dr. Alex Garza is leading a collaboration of the St. Louis region’s four major health systems: SSM Health, Mercy, BJC HealthCare and St. Luke’s Hospital.

The region is beginning to “bend the curve” thanks to social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders, Garza said earlier this week. 

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Garza talked to host Sarah Fenske and discussed how the current restrictions in place are helping to lessen the strain on St. Louis’ health care system and reduce the number of hospitalizations in the area.

During the show, Garza mentioned current cases are like a “rolling hill.” 

He said hospitalizations will peak around April 25, with numbers coming back down due in part to current shelter-in-place orders by the city. “It would have looked like that mountain, had our elected officials ... not taken the action they did,” he said

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson extended the stay-at-home order to May 15 and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page extended the order indefinitely. 

But relaxing those restrictions too soon could cause a second peak of infections more deadly than the first, Garza warned. He said stay-at-home orders should remain in effect until at least mid-May.

“This pandemic is not going to [be] over in a month, two months. We’ll be dealing with this until a vaccine comes along,” Garza said. “I think success looks like: We’re able to control the transmission — which keeps the number of infections down, which keeps the number of deaths down — [and we’re] able to open up society at a reasonable pace while having those protective functions through public health [officials], so that we can identify and squash any outbreaks,” he said.


St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.