O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — St. Louis-area hospitals have seen a sudden and “alarming” spike in hospitalizations for the coronavirus, and the leader of the region’s pandemic task force is imploring residents to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. For several weeks, the number of new daily admissions for COVID-19 had hovered around 40. But Dr. Alex Garza of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force on Wednesday reported 71 new admissions. It’s the largest one-day total since the pandemic began, topping 69 admissions on April 8. The St. Louis region has been hit harder by the pandemic than any other area of Missouri.