This is the County Executive Report Sam gave at the County Council meeting on July 14, 2020. You are welcome to attend County Council meetings, which are currently conducted by webinar; they are open to the public and feature time for public comment. You can find information on the next meeting and dial-in information in the events section at www.stlouisco.com.
Thank you, Lisa, and good evening everyone –
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, it’s imperative we all do what we can to help curb the virus.
Face coverings are mandated in St. Louis County. A public health order was put in place to ensure that our businesses could continue with their reopening plans and that employees and customers would be safe.
The community has shown tremendous support for requiring masks. People want to feel safe when they are at work, shopping and dining out. The overwhelming majority of people understand that masks help keep us safe and those around us safe.
But we also know that not everyone is adhering to our public health order and guidance.
We have received more than 200 complaints since our mask mandate went into effect on July 3.
Most of the complaints were about businesses where employees were not wearing masks. Or concerns that those businesses were allowing patrons to be in their businesses without a mask.
Some of the other complaints were on lack of social distancing and in not following cleaning protocols in these businesses.
Our health department staff reviews each complaint and reminds businesses about the mask mandate and the guidelines they should follow to ensure that their business can operate safely for their employees and customers.
Our priority is helping businesses stay in business, Often, all they need is a reminder of what is required to operate safely. Customers that feel unsafe in a business will not go back. That is an effective mechanism for ensuring that the mask mandate is followed.
As a reminder, here are some things to know about the face covering requirement:
Here are some instances where face covering are NOT required:
You should still have a face covering with you at all times when you are not home. There might be times where you cannot avoid being around other people.
Children under 2 years old must not wear a face covering. There is a risk of suffocation. It is recommended that children ages 3 to 9 wear a face covering but only while supervised by an adult.
There also are some exceptions for those with various health conditions. Please visit stlcorona.com and click on Reopening Guidelines to learn more about face coverings.
Across the country, we have seen the number of COVID-19 cases rise, driven by more testing and more people out and about.
With more positive cases, our need has grown for more contact tracing.
We have 200 volunteers and 60 hired contact tracers and continue hiring more. Contact tracing is an essential part of curbing this virus.
Here is a story I shared at my media briefing yesterday.
Through contact tracing, 12 cases all came back to one spot – the breakroom of a manufacturing plant in St. Louis County.
The company in St. Louis County had begun requiring masks for employees before they were mandated. They re-arranged their workspaces to be a safe distance apart. The company worked diligently to prevent an outbreak.
So they were surprised when employees started turning up positive.
Linking the cases was not easy. The employees live in four counties across two states. But as the contact tracers put the pieces together, working with health departments in other counties, they determined the link was that all the positive cases were employees at the same company who all took lunch breaks at the same time in the same space.
And it was in that space where masks were not worn and social distancing was not strictly followed.
As more people are heading back to their workplaces, we must keep in mind that no part of a building is free from the spread of this virus.
The number of people in a breakroom or kitchen should be minimal. Stagger lunch breaks.
Breakrooms are filled with high touch areas such as refrigerators, microwaves, sinks and coffee makers.
Don’t let up on being cautious and responsible. I know it’s easy to lapse. But as long as the virus is present in our community, we cannot let down our guard.
Our fight against the virus is staying a safe distance from others, wearing masks except when eating and drinking, and constantly cleaning common areas. Wash your hands frequently.
Aggressive contact tracing has proven an integral part of slowing this virus. It’s what has allowed us to slowly reopen. Contact tracing is how we are going to get through this.
If you receive a call from the Health Department that you may have been exposed, please return the call. Please cooperate. Please help us protect others.
Your assistance could save a life.