ST. LOUIS COUNTY — County Executive Sam Page on Monday said that the “slow and partial reopening” of some businesses can’t be considered a victory.
"Too many lives have been lost and too many families have been injured with family members becoming sick," he said at a news conference.
"So we cannot let this gradual and thoughtful reopening be looked at as a return to normal. It's really far from it,” he continued.
Many business were given the OK to reopen Monday and Page said it's still important to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines that reduce the likelihood of transmission of the coronavirus. Masks are required for employees and “highly recommended” for others, he said, adding that “peer pressure and common sense” will be the best enforcement mechanism of those measures.
He said that officials will be watching the statistics on hospital admissions, one of the best markers of whether reopening was triggering a resurgence of the virus. Page said leaders will also watch the ratio of positive to negative tests, although he cautioned that an increase in testing would lead to an increase in positive cases.
Page said that either public or private labs in the county are now able to test anyone with symptoms, as well as high-risk individuals without symptoms.
Page praised the “overwhelming cooperation” of residents with stay-at-home orders as the way the county reached this point, saying it prevented hospitals from being overrun with COVID-19 cases.
Although Page said gyms are not being allowed to reopen Monday because of the high risk of transmission there, the county will be working with gyms to find a safe way to open.
A court hearing is scheduled Monday in a battle between county officials and operators of two House of Pain gym locations that opened in defiance of county orders.
Page said he expected summer day camps will be allowed to reopen, saying guidelines for doing so will be released later in the week. Page said they will likely be similar to day care guidelines.