ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County Executive Sam Page declared a state of emergency Friday in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. Page is also banning events that draw more than 250 people in the county.
The county executive, who is a medical doctor, said he understands how the coronavirus can impact the community. He said the actions being taken will save lives.
At a news conference Friday, Page said the emergency declaration will mean the full resources of the county will be given to public health officials to prevent the spread of the virus. He called on citizens to avoid large crowds so he issued a ban on events with more than 250 people in the county.
If you feel sick, then stay home; but that may not be easy for everyone. They are enacting a new policy for St. Louis County employees to make that easier. They are also working to help people without homes to access the help they need.
Missouri American Water has issued a moratorium on water shutoffs. They are also working to restore service to those who have their water shut off.
St. Louis County is also asking landlords to refrain from evictions during. It is not clear how St. Louis County will enforce the orders.
Religious activities are constitutionally protected. St. Louis County government hopes religious leaders will go by their guidelines and limit groups to less than 250 individuals.
Will schools remain in session? Page said that they have a separate governing authority and he cannot rule on that issue.
The one confirmed case of the virus in St. Louis County is travel-related. Page said he believes it’s just a matter of time before the county does have a confirmed case spread by community contact.
"We're going have to deal with this. It’s going to be in our community. People are going to eventually get sick just like they get sick from the flu,” Page said. “Some people will be sicker than others but if we can delay that activity and spread that illness out over time, our hospitals will have a better capacity to take care of everyone.”
Page said that it is okay to go outside and enjoy nature. But if you feel sick, then you need to stay inside and call the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.
On Thursday, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health announced that there are three possible coronavirus cases with test results pending. Nine results submitted from St. Louis County have come back negative. There is only one confirmed case of COVID-19 that has tested positive.
The St. Louis County Department of Public Health is testing 3-5 people per day. There are not yet enough tests for everyone requesting one. They are asking people to contact them if they feel sick to access the best resources available.
People with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, or who recently came into contact with someone testing positive for coronavirus should contact the St. Louis County Health Line at 314-615-2660 with their concerns.
Call 211 for general COVID-19 questions. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services hotline can be reached at 877-435-8411.
Learn more about St. Louis County's response to COVID-19 here: www.stlcorona.com.
There will be another announcement by St. Louis County at 6:00 pm in reference to the medical response to coronavirus.