The City of St. Louis Department of Health is issuing this Health Alert Network message to notify individuals in the city that the Department of Health Strongly Recommends wearing a face mask indoors in public, and in other crowded environments. The Department of Health is reporting that the city is in a COVID-19 surge, with daily case counts higher than the peak of the Delta surge. At- home antigen tests are now widely available but results are rarely reported, so the true extent of transmission is likely to be substantially higher than the number of known cases. Over the past 7 days the city has experienced a case rate of 220.5 cases per 100,000 residents, which is above the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) threshold of 200 cases per 100,000.
Another alarming trend the City is seeing is the increase in the number of new hospital admissions. With a hospitalization rate of 10.3 new admissions per 100,000 residents over the past 7 days, the City is currently above the CDC’s threshold of 10 new admissions per 100,000 when case counts are high. This trend is a concern throughout the region. During the past week St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force hospitals are reporting a daily average of 39 new patients with COVID-19 being admitted. Between the high case rate and high hospitalization rate, the City is now categorized as having a High Community Level for COVID-19.
“This Health Alert Network message strongly recommending the wearing of face masks is strictly data-driven,” says Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. “We can’t continue to let the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to climb and not do anything. We all need to do our part. We know that masks minimize the transmission of the virus and we can expect a decline in cases and a decline in hospitalizations if our community voluntarily masks up during this critical time.”
The Department of Health’s recommendation aligns with CDC guidance provided for low, medium, and high Community Levels for COVID-19. When a community falls in the high risk category one of the prevention strategies the CDC recommends is wearing a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status.