Missouri medical leaders question decision to end state of emergency

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(AP) – A medical group representing most hospitals in the St. Louis area expressed disappointment on Friday at Governor Mike Parson’s decision to allow the Missouri pandemic state of emergency to expire, saying that it remove the flexibility that has helped hospitals deal with the onslaught of COVID-19 patients.

The Republican governor announced Thursday that he was allowing the state of emergency linked to the pandemic to expire at the end of December. In a statement, he said the state was ready to help but “there was no longer a need for a state of emergency,” citing the effectiveness of vaccines, mitigation efforts and the work of health professionals.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force has noted the skyrocketing number of cases and hospitalizations as the omicron variant takes hold and the delta variant continues its rapid spread. The task force said in a statement that the emergency order has enabled expanded use of telehealth services, given hospitals the ability to exceed licensed bed capacity, and removed barriers to testing and treating COVID-patients. 19.

“For Missouri’s health systems, the emergency order that allowed us to expand our ability to treat more sick patients will be lost,” the statement said. He urged Missouri lawmakers to restore “many of the provisions essential to the provision of health care services during this pandemic.”

Parson’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a message from Friday asking for comment.

Parson’s decision comes as Missouri averages more than 4,000 new cases per day, based on confirmed and probable test results released on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard on Friday. Hospitalizations statewide are also increasing, reaching 2,299, the highest total since August.

The statewide positivity rate of 19.5% for PCR testing is almost four times the 5% target set by the World Health Organization.

Among those who tested positive was Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who announced his diagnosis on Twitter on Friday. The Democrat said he was fully vaccinated and received a booster, and had few symptoms.

The new wave has led the University of Washington in St. Louis to offer online courses only at the start of the spring semester. The school said in a statement Thursday that cases were skyrocketing on campus, as in many parts of the country, which led to its decision to only hold classes online for the first two weeks of the school year. semester.

The school said “as long as conditions permit,” in-person instruction will begin on January 31 and students who live in dormitories will be allowed to return on January 28. Students will need to get tested for COVID-19 before they can return to campus. The university will mail test kits to any student with an address in the United States

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