St. Louis County is banning all gathering larger than 250 people, starting at 5 p.m. today as public officials try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
"This limit is based on the opinion of public health experts, the most up-to-date guidance of the CDC and my own judgment as a medical doctor," St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said at a news conference. "Smaller groups and shorter contact periods work."
The city has also put a restriction on the size of events, announcing yesterday there would be a cap of 1,000 people.
Both the county and city have now declared states of emergency as they try to blunt the effects of COVID-19, which has become a pandemic. So far, there is only one confirmed case in the county — a twenty-year-old college student who returned recently from Italy, one of the countries hit the hardest in the world — and none in the city.
Page said at the news conference he suspects the virus is spreading through the community, it's just "unrecognized" because not enough people have been tested yet. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has put limits on who can be tested, as the United States continues to lag far behind other countries in building up a large enough supply of tests.
"I don't believe we have enough testing in our country or in our community," Page said. "We do not have enough testing vehicles or tests or places, and that is because this is a disease that is about 90 days old in America and it just hasn't been built yet."
Page said he's also asking the county to consider offering more flexible leave during this time, and he's asking banks and landlords to consider a temporary halt to evictions.
Page added that the county courts will be making an announcement later about operations.
For more information on COVID-19, go to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website, and for more on the local response, go to websites for the city's health department and St. Louis County's health department.