This is the County Executive Report Sam gave at the County Council meeting on May 19, 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 afternoon everyone.
Yesterday, St. Louis County began a slow, gradual opening – with the safety of everyone in mind.
That included the remainder of our parks. Now all county parks are open with restrictions in place on use of playgrounds, courts, shelters and other parts of our parks where social distancing would be a challenge.
Our first day report was promising: Some businesses were reopening. Others are opting to wait a week or so. The public, while ready to move about, is doing so slowly and responsibly.
Putting in place stay-at-home orders early kept this virus from overwhelming our hospital systems and infecting thousands more.
The overwhelming cooperation of our residents to practice social distancing and to wear masks when it is not possible to stay a safe distance from others allowed us to get to the point where we are today – a slow, careful, safe opening.
We have worked with our hospitals, public health officials, business community and municipal leaders to come up with restrictions and guidelines that allow us to get more of our businesses open safely.
Our public health department continues working on guidelines for other sectors of our community, including summer camps, pools, gyms and event spaces. We hope to have guidelines for summer camps by early next week.
This pandemic has taken a devastating toll on our economy, and our small businesses desperately need to open their doors.
Yesterday, many of them were allowed to. Restaurants and hair salons are among those businesses.
The federal government awarded St. Louis County a $173.5 million grant through the CARES Act. We have set aside up to $17.5 million of that for our small businesses.
Each of our council members are working with businesses in their districts to get this money into their communities.
Because interest has been so high in the Small Business Relief Fund, we have extended the deadline by two weeks, to May 31. The extension also gives council members and their staff additional time to review applications and make recommendations.
The goal of this program is to make sure those who need the money the most get it. Thanks to each council member for all the hard work you are doing to ensure this happens.
With the reopening of St. Louis County, we will continue to expand testing and we are purchasing as many tests as we can get our hands on.
With more testing and more people out and about we expect to see an increase in positive cases. We will continue our diligence in contact tracing and working to get people safely quarantined, if needed.
This virus is still very present in our community, and very contagious. We cannot let up as we move into the first phase of our new normal.
We will closely monitor the number of positive and negative test results.
We will closely watch the number of hospitalizations. And we will continue following the guidance of our medical experts in our hospitals and in our public health systems.
And we must rely on common sense -- on everyone doing all they can to protect themselves and those around them from harm.
Meanwhile, we continue to work closely with our high-risk populations like nursing homes. We are in regular contact with our long-term care facilities, providing testing, PPE and training.
And we continue working closely with our volunteer advisors who have provided valuable assistance in helping get these funds as deeply into the communities as we can.
Last week, we awarded 5 grants totaling $2.6 million to agencies who will provide food to thousands of families during this challenging time.
Challenging times will continue. We still have many sick friends, family members and coworkers. People are still hospitalized. Doctors and scientists are still working to figure out this new virus.
A vaccine is probably not a reality until next year. Until then, let’s work together to reopen safely, to get our economy moving. Moving forward together safely is the best path to a full recovery.
That’s all for now, Lisa. Thank you.