“I just want to make sure I don't have the virus. I clean so many apartments I just never know,” said Darryl Burkhalter, a maintenance worker, who waits in line to be tested at a free, no appointment COVID-19 testing event on Thursday, May 14, 2020, at Affinia Healthcare on Biddle in the Carr Square neighborhood. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Troubling coronavirus trends continued in the St. Louis region on Friday, as hospitalizations continued to spike to earlier levels, and the city announced it will slow its reopening plan.

“We’re seeing numbers that take us back in time to early June and even May, when the virus was spreading at a really rapid rate,” said Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, at a Friday media briefing. “We know that we can’t sustain this type of growth in our cases and our hospitalizations without having some negative effects.”

The local rolling seven-day average for virus-related hospitalizations has climbed to 34 new admissions per day — up from an average of 19 just two weeks ago.

Businesses in the city were slated to reopen at 100% capacity on July 20, but that’s been postponed, according to a Friday release from the city. Instead, businesses must remain at no more than 75% capacity until further notice.

Young people are contributing to spikes in cases across the region. For example, in Monroe County, officials reported a substantial rise in cases in recent weeks, and half of those new cases are people ages 20-30.

And in St. Louis, more than 60% of the new cases reported Thursday by city health officials involved people in their 20s and early 30s, Mayor Lyda Krewson said Friday.

“This is a real shift,” said Krewson, who noted the change is consistent with national trends. “One of the things we are looking at is, ‘Where is this occurring?’”

She said city representatives will be out this weekend to monitor bars where there are concerns about potential failure to comply with proper social distancing or mask-wearing requirements.

Missouri on Friday recorded 868 new cases of coronavirus, its third-most in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic. The four highest single-day counts have all come in the past two weeks.

In all, Missouri has reported 31,290 cases and 1,121 deaths.

Illinois on Friday reported 1,394 cases of the coronavirus, bringing its total to 159,344 cases and 7,272 deaths.

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