County Executive Dr. Sam Page at a press conference announcing vaccination initiatives on July 19, 2021.
A third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is coming, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force warned yesterday. But, they added this time, it’s preventable.
Today, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said in a press conference the county is in the Center for Disease Control’s red zone for widespread community transmission. He explained the classification is due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases and an increased test positivity rate. The county had 191 new cases and a 9% positivity rate, he said. Page warned cases would increase in the coming weeks and that vaccine hesitancy was turning into vaccine hostility.
“I hate that we are where we are. A spot where we have a way out of this pandemic but not enough people are getting vaccinated to stop this latest wave,” Page said at the conference.
Dr. Clay Dunagan, BJC HealthCare’s chief clinical officer and acting head of the Pandemic Task Force, says there are two ways to fight COVID-19 right now: vaccinations and masks. St. Louis County sits at 44.6 percent of its population vaccinated, with the city at 34.9 percent. Dunagan says not enough of the community has been vaccinated to prevent the spread of the delta variant.
“When we first initiated masking and social distancing guidelines, the goal was to wear masks for protection until a vaccine was available,” Dunagan explained in a statement. “The vaccine is available, but unfortunately the vaccination rate in our community has not been high enough to prevent spread of the delta variant. We now need to return to masking to combat this new wave of infections.”
Page stopped short in his conference of putting a mask mandate in place, but a release from the county and city yesterday pleaded with citizens to follow the pandemic task force’s recommendation to mask up in areas where the vaccination status of people around you is unknown. This could be at the grocery store, businesses, or restaurants. A separate release from the county and city called a mask mandate a “topic of conversation.” Page said the county is watching other jurisdictions that are considered red zones. On Monday, Page announced new initiatives
to increase vaccination rates. Dunagan highlighted the importance of vaccinations and masks in a statement yesterday.
“I know this doesn’t seem fair. The CDC has approved removing masks among vaccinated individuals. But our community doesn’t have enough vaccinated individuals to safely implement these recommendations in the face of the influx of the delta variant,” Dunagan said in a release. “The safest thing for our community and the most effective way to get back on track is to wear masks – and get vaccinated.”
View COVID-19 data for St. Louis County on the website stlcorona.com
or St. Louis city’s data on stlouis-mo.gov/covid-19
. Find places to get vaccinated on covidvaccine.mo.gov
Follow Jenna on Twitter at @writesjenna. Email the author at [email protected]
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