As the City of St. Louis Department of Health recognizes the current spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has reduced in our community, it is not ready to declare an end to the pandemic. 747 city residents have lost their lives to COVID-19, and many more experience lasting symptoms from their exposure to the virus.
In the past 10 months, the City of St. Louis and the nation witnessed the Delta variant surge, followed by the Omicron variant, which created the highest positivity rates to date only a few months ago. The Department of Health is now closely monitoring the transmission of the BA.2, or “stealth omicron” variant, both overseas and nationwide, as it recently became the dominant variant in United States transmissions.
“It has been a long two years for our entire community. While we wish to move forward from this pandemic, there are multiple metrics that have yet to be achieved, and a large segment of the city’s most vulnerable population continues to be disproportionately impacted by the virus,” says Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. “Protecting these vulnerable populations is one of the biggest reasons for my career in medicine and specifically infectious diseases including COVID-19. We ask community members to listen to trusted messengers for the best next steps to protect yourself as we move forward.”
Certain segments of the city’s population continue to be at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including:
- People with pre-existing medical conditions;
- People with a weakened immune system or around people who have weakened immune systems;
- If you are at risk, or around someone at risk, for severe disease;
- If you are over 65 years old or are around people who are over 65 years old;
- Around children under the age of 5, who are not eligible for vaccination, many of whom are unable to wear a mask;
- Around children (ages 5 - 11) who are not eligible for boosters;
- In congregate living facilities; at faith community gatherings; and social festivities
Moving into a “new normal” requires our community to look out for the health of our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors through continued safety measures:
- Wearing a mask to protect others when we feel we need to do so,
- Getting fully vaccinated and boosted when eligible
- Staying home from school or work if you feel sick or experience COVID-19 symptoms
- Test for COVID-19 if exposed or showing COVID-19 symptoms
The Department of Health will continue providing support to the community through vaccine clinics partnerships, making personal protective equipment available to vulnerable populations, including teachers, the unhoused, and residents in need of social support, and remaining a resource for information and guidance about COVID-19 and all community health concerns.