ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) - A new COVID-19 program aimed to get more St. Louis County residents vaccinated will launch soon, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page said.
Page hinted at a new education program, Revive STL, which will combat vaccine hesitancy by spreading awareness through real people's stories, during his Wednesday briefing.
"I hate that we are kind of at a spot where we have a way out of this pandemic, but not enough people are getting vaccinated to stop this," said Page. "We're seeing vaccine hesitancy morph into vaccine hostility."
Data shows the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in St. Louis County is swift and will get worse over the next few weeks. As of Wednesday, the county is averaging 191 new COVID cases and the test positivity rate is at 9 percent. Those statistics land St. Louis County in the CDC's red zone for widespread community transmission.
According to health officials, Black children from ages 12 to 15 are not getting vaccinated compared to white children. Data from St. Louis University shows 47 percent of white teens have started the vaccination process while only 16 percent of Black children have done the same. North County zip codes have the highest COVID case count.
"Let's work together to make St. Louis one of the first places in the country to get rid of COVID and all of its variants," the county executive added urging the unvaccinated to roll up their sleeves.
Tuesday, Dr. Clay Dunagan, the head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, urged for a return to masking by people in public places, even by those who are fully vaccinated, until the percentage of Missouri residents fully vaccinated rises. Missouri has a vaccination rate of 50 percent, but Dunagan said that number needs be significantly higher.
In a statement Tuesday, new task force leader Dr. Clay Dunagan said unlike previous surges, the current crisis can be mitigated by masks and vaccination efforts.
“When we first initiated masking and social distancing guidelines, the goal was to wear masks for protection until a vaccine was available,” said Dunagan. “The vaccine is available, but unfortunately the vaccination rate in our community has not been high enough to prevent spread of the Delta variant. We now need to return to masking to combat this new wave of infections.”
On July 1, St. Louis City and County health officials issued an advisory asking everyone to wear a mask in public places. Tuesday, city and county officials said no mask mandate will go into place, for now, but officials are watching areas where such mandates are going into effect.