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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Health officials are worried Thanksgiving travel and gatherings will inflame the pandemic, straining hospitals even further.

"We've got to take the fuel away from this virus," Herb Simmons, executive director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, said at a briefing Friday.

The number of confirmed cases in Missouri rose Saturday by 2,204 to 292,740, and the number of deaths rose by eight to 3,817.

Based on current trends, models predict St. Louis-area hospitals will run out of ICU beds around the first week of December — and afterward will only get worse, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

DePaul, one of eight local SSM Health hospitals, is among the hardest hit by the pandemic in the St. Louis area. Situated in Bridgeton, it serves some of the most vulnerable ZIP codes in north St. Louis County — where many of the region's working poor reside. Many are essential workers such as bus drivers, teachers, janitors, nurses and clerks.

Dr. Ronen Dudaie, director of the intensive care unit, wonders what it will be like if the number of patients follows what the models predict, and all the rooms in the north unit are doubled up with patients.

"It will be survival mode at that point," he said.

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