- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2020

O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) - The number of coronavirus patients in Missouri hospitals reached another record Wednesday, and one of the state’s largest health care providers called off some elective procedures amid fears that hospitals are nearing their capacity.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 2,599 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 193,023 since the pandemic began. The state also cited 24 additional deaths, bringing the total to 3,088. The seven-day average for hospitalizations reached 1,672, 97 more than the previous record set a day earlier.

Hospitals in the St. Louis region are among those seeing record numbers of patients. BJC HealthCare, in a statement, said four of its St. Louis-area hospitals will start rescheduling some elective surgeries starting Monday and until at least Nov. 20.

The statement said elective procedures that require inpatient or overnight beds that can be safely delayed will be put off at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Christian Hospital and Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis County, and Memorial Hospital Belleville on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.

The St. Louis region was hit harder than anywhere else in Missouri in the early months of the pandemic. Hospitalizations dropped in the summer but have spiked again since September.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force on Tuesday reported 74 new admissions for COVID-19, a one-day record since tracking began in April. The task force includes several of the region’s largest hospitals.

BJC’s decision to delay elective procedures marks the second time St. Louis-area hospitals have done so. Several hospitals temporarily halted non-vital surgeries in the spring as part of an effort to save bed space for COVID-19 patients, as well as to make sure hospitals had adequate staffing.

The pandemic also is creating concerns about school activities in the late fall and winter, when basketball, wrestling and other sports are played indoors. In the Kansas City area, the Jackson County Health Department is advising districts to avoid indoor sports and activities if mitigation such as face coverings and social distancing aren’t possible.

In addition to sports, the department cited concerns about indoor activities such as band, choir and theater performances.

“The chance of widespread transmission and/or exposure in schools is higher if these activities are performed, especially when spectators are allowed,” according to updated guidance released Tuesday.

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