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ST. LOUIS (AP) — The number of daily COVID-19 cases in St. Louis has tripled since the start of December, a trend the city’s health director calls “alarming.”

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Meanwhile, people seeking to get tested for the virus are struggling to find kits in stores or appointments at testing sites. Urgent care centers and pharmacies in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas are busy, with few openings. Stores that sell home testing kits are struggling to keep them on the shelves.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said it is considering adding testing sites given the recent surge in demand, department spokeswoman Lisa Cox told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She said the agency has already added testing events in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas for the holiday season.

The St. Louis Department of Health said the seven-day case average is now at 150 cases per day. The positivity rate — the percentage of people testing who have the virus — is at 14.3% in the city, and the health department said preliminary data from the past few days shows it may now be around 25%.

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Data from the state’s COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday shows a statewide positivity rate of 16%. The goal is 5% or less.

“These trends are alarming, especially when we know the actual numbers may be higher, as many people have the disease asymptomatically and others are not getting tested,” St. Louis Health Director Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis said in a news release.

The number of hospitalized patients continues to rise. The state dashboard shows 2,160 people hospitalized in Missouri, more than double the number in mid-November.

With the fast-spreading omicron variant surging, some St. Louis area bars and restaurants are pausing indoor dining and drinking.

“We just felt it was in the best interest of the community, the safety of our staff, that we shut down,” Jamie Kilgore, owner of Planter’s House and Small Change in St. Louis, told KMOV-TV.

 

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