St. Louis area hospitals on pace to run out of space for patients in 2 weeks, says task force leader


ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force Leader Alex Dr. Garza says that at the current rate of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, local hospitals will be filled beyond capacity within a couple of weeks.

"It's not just urban St. Louis City, St. Louis County or even the collar counties. We're getting them from everywhere now. And unfortunatley we're also running out of capacity and we're not sure where those patients are going to go when we do run out."

About 24% of all coronavirus tests in Missouri in the past week came back positive in the past week and 2,629 patients suffering from the virus were hospitalized as of Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

Garza admits that there is little that can be done to prevent hospitals and healthcare workers from being overwhelmed. But to help slow the spread he's calling for Missouri to enact a safer at home order.

That means residents should be asked to stay home except for things like going to school, the store or for medical care. That order is already in place in St. Louis County.

He says he's not sure where patients will go when hospitals are full, but the Task Force is working with the state on options. The answer could be hiring auxiliary staff or setting up a field hospital in St. Louis. Garza says given the current projections, it might be both.

He says he's not trying to make it into a political argument.

"I'm trying to save lives, that's all I'm trying to do," Garza says. "And if that's what it takes then that's what we should do."

Already hospitals are converting labs and other facilities into overflow ICUs. As for the next several weeks.

"It's gonna be difficult, more difficult than anything they've ever seen," Garza says. "But how difficult depends on what actions we take right now."

When asked for a response to Garza's plea, Gov. Mike Parson's office referred us to what the governor said yesterday, which is that fighting the virus is a local and personal responsibility.

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