ST. LOUIS ( -- The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force held one of its final regular weekly briefings on Wednesday. During the briefing, the head of the task force, Dr. Alex Garza, announced that COVID-19 hospitalizations at St. Louis metro hospitals had dropped below 100 for the first time since March 2020, a "benchmark number."

Daily average of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the St. Louis region by month

Month Average COVID-19 hospitalization
April, 2020 490
May, 2020 354
June, 2020 162
July, 2020 208
August, 2020 277
September, 2020 273
October, 2020 318
November, 2020 725
December, 2020 873
January, 2021 682
February, 2021 357
March, 2021 230
April, 2021 217
May, 2021 170

Area health departments are also transitioning away from holding only a few large mass vaccination clinics to smaller, hyper-local vaccination clinics and more of them. Health authorities believe they need to make vaccines more convenient to get more people vaccinated.

"Going into the neighborhoods and hosting these neighborhood events allows us to meet people exactly where they are," explained Damon Broadus with the St. Louis County Public Health Department.

The St. Louis City and County health departments are partnering with organizations that have built a lot of trust in the community to hold vaccination clinics, and hopefully convince more to get their shots.

St. Louis Health Department Acting Director Dr. Fredrick Echols said working with trusted organizations and going out to meet people where they are will help to overcome barriers that have built up among some minority and immigrant groups.

"By understanding the plight that these communities have endured were able to better, more effectively and efficiently, engage them in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner. Which is, again, that's really important to building trust," he said.

The St. Louis metro area has made a lot of progress at getting people to line up to get vaccinated but the vaccination rates on Missouri's vaccine dashboard website shows there's a long way still to go.

According to the website, 39% of the population of St. Charles County is fully vaccinated. St. Louis County sits at 37.7% and St. Louis City has 29.9% of its population fully vaccinated.

The numbers are much lower in some of the rural counties of eastern Missouri. Only 19.9% of the population of Crawford County is fully vaccinated. In Washington County, the vaccination rate is 19.2%. Only 13.3% of the population is fully vaccinated in Reynolds County, which is located southwest of Farmington.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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