Each week, we do our best to help you stay on top of the news in the County. We're thrilled that so many people find this newsletter a useful resource! (Please share with your friends, who can sign up here: https://bit.ly/3nijXBs).
NOTE: Because we have new subscribers each week (welcome!) we will continue to highlight some items that have appeared in past issues. However, to make it easier for those of you who read What Happened Last Week each week (hello!) we will indicate new or edited content with two asterisks ** and a highlight. We hope that's helpful! Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/
Here are a few reminders, and then we'll turn to this week's updates. (Plus: Read to the end for photos of this week's Pet of the Week and FAQ!)
Live Briefings: Dr. Page's press briefings are broadcast live on his County Executive facebook page; they are generally held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30am. (https://www.facebook.
County Council Meeting: The St. Louis County Council holds its meetings at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays; during that meeting Dr. Sam gives his weekly County Executive Report. You can now attend the meeting in person at 41 S. Central Avenue, or watch online. To speak during the public forum portion of the meeting, you must sign up outside of the chamber doors from 6-6:28 p.m. on the date of the meeting. All Council meetings are streamed exclusively to BoxCast. Members of the public can access the stream at https://boxcast.tv/channel/
This Week's Updates
**DPH Issues Public Health Advisory Due to Dramatic Surge in Cases: Last week we reported on the "blindingly fast" rise in COVID-19 cases, which has not slowed. Last week we saw the largest single-day rise in cases in the history of the pandemic – both here in our region, and in the state of Missouri. Last week the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force also announced the largest single-day COVID hospital admissions in the history of the pandemic.
As a result, DPH issued its Public Health Advisory encouraging people to "layer as many evidence-based measures as you can to protect yourself and those around you," including:
• Vaccination - Make an appointment to get a vaccine or a booster at revivestl.com.
• Masking, social distancing, good ventilation, reducing the number of people at social gatherings, and proper hand hygiene. (When possible, wear a well-fitting surgical mask or an N95 mask instead of a cloth mask.)
• Testing, isolation, and quarantine - if you have any symptoms, isolate until you can get tested and remain isolated until you get the results of your test.
As DPH explained, widespread implementation of these interventions in all public spaces (like businesses, stores, and schools) will make these environments safer for everyone.
You can read the Department of Public Health's Public Health Advisory here: https://stlouiscountymo.gov/
**Governor Parson Ends Missouri's State of Emergency, Amidst Recordbreaking Local and Statewide Cases and Hospitalizations: Last week Governor Parson announced he would not extend Missouri's State of Emergency, which had been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. That order made it easier for people to conduct some business virtually, expanded staffing abilities and capacity for some medical practices and hospitals, and allowed the use of the National Guard for COVID mitigation. Allowing these measures to expire is short-sighted, and will impact both our public health capacity and our economic recovery.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force responded by calling upon the legislature to work quickly to help hospitals regain the flexibility that has helped them respond to the evolving needs during the pandemic. You can read the Pandemic Task Force's response here.
**Councilmember Pledges to Move for Mask Requirement on Tuesday: With the stratospheric rise in cases, Councilwoman Lisa Clancy has already said she will move for the Council to fast track a mask requirement this coming Tuesday. Dr. Page has previously requested that the Council ratify a Health Department Order requiring masks (which, per Council rules, can be passed by simple majority vote in the same meeting). The proposed Order Dr. Page has requested included no penalties for violation, but makes masking expecations clear to St. Louis County residents.
Instead of passing the proposed Order, the Council Chair agreed with Councilmember Tim Fitch (R-3rd Dist) that an ordinance was required and precluded a vote on the proposed Order. Without unanimous consent to move more quickly, an ordinance takes three weeks to pass. Additionally, and as was pointed out by Councilman Fitch this week, a violation of such an ordinance may result in misdemeanor penalties because of a state law.
Therefore, Dr. Page has once again expressed his belief that a Council Masking Order is the most appropriate and reasonable response to the current emergency. It can be passed in one Council session, and because it does not include penalties – or invoke penalty provisions in state statutes – it also meets Councilman Fitch's concerns. We anticipate that the Council will address the issue Tuesday.
**St. Louis County Vaccination Rates Top In State Again!: St. Louis County is the highest vaccinated county in Missouri – 67.6% of St. Louis Countians have at least initiated vaccination, and 59.6% have completed vaccination.
**Warming Centers Open; Road Crews Get to Work: This weekend we had a dramatic shift in temperature and a holiday storm system. On Friday, St. Louis County officials announced the opening of the warming shelter at the Salvation Army Family Haven, 10740 Page Avenue. It will be open until March. The County’s Director of Human Services, Howard Hayes, has pledged that "If the Salvation Army reaches capacity, we will use other resources. No household in St. Louis County will be left outside to experience the inclement weather."
The County's Department of Transportation crews concluded salting operations at approximately 3 a.m. Sunday morning, after treating our entire 3,200-lane-mile system.
**Library Expands Program Providing Free Menstrual Products: A successful partnership between the St. Louis County Library and the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank to distribute free tampons and pads is expanding next year to a sixth library branch. The library began handing out period supplies at two branches in early 2020. Two more locations were added when the coronavirus pandemic hit and services moved curbside. A fifth branch became a distribution site in 2020. Starting in January, they’ll be available at the Indian Trails branch in Vinita Park.
Residents who need the supplies can pick them up at the following branches:
Florissant Valley (195 New Florissant Rd. S)
Grand Glaize (1010 Meramec Station Rd.)
Indian Trails (8400 Delport Dr.)
Lewis and Clark (9909 Lewis-Clark Blvd.)
Natural Bridge (7606 Natural Bridge Rd.)
Weber Road (4444 Weber Rd.)
The Year In Review: It's been a challenging and remarkable year. This week the County highlighted just a few of the projects and iniatives it's undertaken:
•The Department of Public Health held 339 neighborhood COVID-19 clinics at 139 different locations across St. Louis County. Dr. Page is grateful for the partnerships we built with businesses, community organizations and places of worship to make the vaccine more accessible.
•St. Louis County Parks hosted the US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships at Creve Coeur Park Soccer Complex that brought more than 4,000 athletes from 13 different states to St. Louis County with an estimated economic impact of $10M.
•Human Services' Adopt a Family program provided gifts for more than 115 families in need.
•The Weinman Shelter for survivors of domestic violence served 126 women and children this year. It is the only emergency shelter in St. Louis County and the largest in the region.
•Justice Services built partnerships to train residents in culinary skills to help find employment and collaborated with Saint Louis University to offer virtual job interviews to help with the transition back into the community.
•The Department of Public Health made Narcan available at all 3 health clinics and distributed more than 900 Narcan rescue kits this year.
•The Department of Information Technology won 3 awards this year for their work modernizing our website and services for residents. Learn more about the awards here: https://stlouiscountymo.gov/
•Spirit Airport welcomed the Blue Angels in November ahead of their return in June for the 2022 Spirit of St. Louis Airshow.
•St. Louis County Parks hung more than one million twinkling lights for another incredibly successful year of Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park.
Recycle Your Holiday Tree, Lights: Wondering what to do after the holiday with your natural tree – or those pesky strands of holiday lights that aren't working anymore? St. Louis County has resources for you! The Parks Department uses recycled fresh-cut natural trees as natural fish habitats and mulch; holiday light recycling is available at Winter Wonderland and some other locations. Check out the full holiday recycling guide here: http://ow.ly/gEcO50GYY1h
**Frequently Asked Question:
If I'm symptomatic and the rapid test I take comes back negative, does that mean I definitely don't have COVID?
Unfortunately it's not that simple. First of all, rapid tests require quite a bit of virus to be present on the sample in order to register a positive; they are not as sensitive as PCR tests. For that reason it's recommended that you take more than one (a few hours apart). You can get a false negative – at least initially – if you are vaccinated and symptomatic because the vaccine is working!
Here's why: the vaccine shows your immune system what to look for – and fight. So, when exposed to COVID, your immune system will get to work right away, even before there's sufficient number of virus to register on a rapid test. Rapid tests require a significant amount of virus to result in a positive, sufficient that you would be considered contageous. So, if you register negative on a rapid test but have symptoms of COVID, you could be infected with the virus but not yet infectious. That could change within hours, however. So, if you are feeling ill and a rapid test does not register a positive, either obtain a PCR test or conduct another rapid test (ideally a few hours later).
We are also learning more about the differences in the Omicron variant, and there have been reports of people testing negative when only using a nasal swab – but positive when adding a throat swab.
The bottom line: if you are symptomatic – whether with COVID or the flu or a winter cold – please take care of yourself and stay home!
**Pet of the Week!: Before getting to our Pet of the Week, we wanted to encourage you to watch this great video about the St. Louis County Pet Adoption Center (which includes plenty of pet photos!): https://fb.watch/
The shelter is open on the weekends from 12-3pm, and during the week by appointment. Any questions regarding the adoption process can be directed to the adoption desk at 314-615-0650 (opt. 3). Learn more about the adoption process and find the adoption application online here: https://stlouiscountymo.
St. Louis County Library News:
St. Louis County Libraries are open for browsing without an appointment. Learn more at www.slcl.org/reopening. The
Grab-and-Go Meals: Operation Food Search provides free grab and go meals for kids, Monday-Friday at select SLCL locations. Learn more: www.slcl.org/after-school-
Join the Winter Reading Challenge! All ages can participate. Register online at www.slcl.org. Print one of the log sheets (there's one for each age category) to help track. Complete at least 5 activities to be entered in an electronic prize raffle. Mark activities complete by January 31.
St. Louis County Parks news:
Bows for Birds Begins! The Audubon Center at Riverlands has begun its second annual Bows for Birds challenge – a scavenger hunt that takes you to 12 different area parks in search of wooden cutouts of native birds. And yes! There are prizes! It's a great family-friendly event. Learn more here: https://riverlands.
The Fall/Winter Activity Guide is available! Learn more about special events, day camps, swimming lessons, outdoor programs and more: http://ow.ly/my0Z50DQ9n5
To say this is a challenging, fast-paced time is an understatement, but we hope updates like this will help you keep track of what's going on week-to-week.
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Let us know if you have questions, concerns, or something you'd like us to focus on!
Dr. Sam's Team