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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Officials are discussing canceling all but the most urgent medical procedures and building a field hospital as the coronavirus surges in Missouri.

Dr. Alex Garza, the chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said on Friday that projections show the region's hospitals maxing out intensive care units in a matter of days, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Garza said the task force is working with the state to determine what assistance will be necessary. The region might need a field hospital, he said. And it might just need to open up beds in area hospitals that, right now, can't be used because the hospitals don't have enough staff.

"And, given these projections, it might be both," Garza said.

In Springfield, CoxHealth will add nearly 150 beds in the next few weeks, which is equivalent to a mid-sized hospital, said Dr. Shawn Usery during a briefing Friday. However, he said, he needs more staff to care for the patients who fill that added space, KYTV reported.

"We are currently looking across the United States to find nurses to help care for patients," he said.

As of Saturday, the state health department reported that there have been 25,480 new coronavirus cases in the past week, or 3,640 new cases daily on average.

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