What Happened This Week
We've heard from a lot of people that it's hard to keep track of what's happening from week-to-week. We thought you might feel that way, too, and that a recap of the week might help. Here are some highlights:
- Dr. Sam holds live briefings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30am; those briefings are broadcast live on his County Executive facebook page, which you can access from this link: https://www.facebook.com/CountyExecutiveSamPage/
- Every Tuesday, the St. Louis County Council holds its meeting live by web/teleconference. During that meeting Dr. Sam gives his weekly County Executive Report. This week's meeting is at 6:30pm on May 5. To join, dial call +1-408-418-9388 and enter the Access code: 791 523 981 to join the meeting. If you'd like to join by computer, go to www.stlouisco.com and scroll to the "events" links at the bottom of the page, where you will find a link to join.
- One year ago last week, on April 29, 2019, Dr. Sam Page was sworn in to replace the former County Executive. It was an unexpected way to take office, but they hit the ground running. If you have wondered what he and his team have accomplished in the past year, please check out the annual report here.
- Last week the County Council approved spending of the federal CARES Act grant funding, which will allow the County to immediately begin investing those funds in the tests, personal protective equipment, and contact tracing residents need. The CARES Act grant funding will be used to reimburse the County for expenses already incurred in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to pay for what we need going forward. As with all grants, these funds come with very specific directions as to how they can be used. The funds must be spent by December 31, 2020 or they are forfeited; spending these funds efficiently, effectively, and ethically is important so the County budget does not have to absorb costs that would otherwise be covered by these grants.
- On Friday, Dr. Page announced a new Small Business Relief Program that will help pay for expenses small businesses have incurred while they have been closed, or during their reopening. Businesses (including non-profits and sole proprietorships) with 50 or fewer employees as of March 1, 2020 can qualify for a one-time grant of up to $15,000. Over $17 million of the CARES Act grant funding (10% of the funds received) has been dedicated to these small business grants, which will be awarded based upon need. Applications will be reviewed/recommended by municipal mayors and the county councilpeople for that district before they are independently reviewed by an accounting firm. Please go to www.STLCorona.com to fill out an application.
- So far, St. Louis County has purchased 1.3 million masks, 700,000 gloves, 34,000 gowns, 84,000 units of hand sanitizer, and 12,750 safety glasses. You can see those kinds of expenses in the new transparency portal on www.STLCorona.com. You can view a breakdown of actual or committed spending by department or by vendor, look at individual expenditures, and even download a spreadsheet of the spending data. Access it by going to www.STLCorona.com and clicking on the green "COVID-19 Spending" button, or by clicking HERE.
- A new County Council Special Committee for Oversight of COVID-19 Funding and Expenditures will provide special oversight over CARES Act grant expenditures. That committee will help monitor spending, listen and respond to public comment, and make policy recommendations. County Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway will lead the committee. This Tuesday (May 5) at 10am the committee will hold its first meeting; those meetings are open to the public. To join by phone call +1-408-418-9388 and enter the Access code: 799 462 779. To join by computer, go to www.stlouisco.com and scroll to the "events" links at the bottom of the page, where you will find a link to join.
- Dr. Page was happy to reopen many St. Louis County Parks on April 28! To reopen safely, a few adjustments were made. Loop trails have been turned into one-way routes; signs are posted throughout the parks reminding people to keep six feet away from one another; orange fencing has been erected around places where people may gather, like pavilions; bathrooms and other park facilities will remain closed; and some of the smaller parks that mainly feature playground equipment have not been reopened. People are urged to continue social distancing and to enjoy parks responsibly and safely!
- This week, three more people were added to the CARES Act funding advisory team. Deborah Patterson will be the Senior Advisor for Humanitarian Relief. She is a former president of the Monsanto Fund, which on a yearly basis delivered tens of millions of dollars to the St. Louis region to support community efforts and community challenges. She is also the former president of the Red Cross of the Eastern District of Missouri and has served on the board of directors of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Delta Dental of Missouri, and the United Way of Greater St. Louis. Dr. Paul Hintze will be the Senior Advisor for Public Health Response. He currently works part-time in the County health department. Paul has more than four decades of experience as an internist and doctor of Rheumatology, and is the former Chief Medical Officer for Mercy Hospital. Kathy Reamer will be the Senior Advisor for Compliance. Kathy will be responsible for the compliance part of the county CARES Act. Kathy has managed compliance operations for some of the St. Louis region’s largest employers and economic powerhouses. She is a former Chief Compliance and Data Privacy Officer for Energizer Holdings and was the Vice President of Compliance at AT&T for nearly a decade.
- The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis distributed food and other items at the former Jamestown Mall. Dr. Page was grateful to volunteer at that effort and help distribute supplies to families. Some families waited in line for two hours, emphasizing the need in our community.
- The St. Louis County Public Libraries give shelf-stable free meals to children up to 18 years of age from 10am-12pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Simply drive up, indicate how many children you have under 18, and a staff member will load your trunk with the right amount of meals. Each kit contains two breakfasts, two lunches, and milk. On Fridays, at four branches families can go through a second line for diapers. The following branches distribute meals: Bridgeton Trails, Indian Trails, Jamestown Bluffs, Prairie Commons, Rock Road. The following branches distribute meals and diapers (diapers are only available on Fridays): Florissant Valley, Lewis & Clark, Natural Bridge, and Weber Road. See the St. Louis County Library website for more details. https://www.slcl.org/drive-thru-meals
- Contact tracing is the process of investigating who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Having enough testing and contact tracing that we can easily identify and isolate any breakouts is an important step toward responsibly lifting safety measures. The County continues to aggressively buy as many tests as it can get its hands on, but it is also hiring an additional 100 contact tracers, to supplement the ~70 that are currently on staff. This week the County received over 800 applications.
- The Department of Health has an initiative to give businesses science-based guidelines that will help every business and sector of the economy adjust and reopen safely. The administration will work closely with local businesses and business organizations to help convey best practices on protecting workers and customers when businesses reopen.
- The Health Department continued to ask everyone to wear maskswhile in public to keep our healthcare workers, grocery workers, custodians, transportation professionals and first responders safe and healthy.
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.
Let us know if you have questions, concerns, or something you'd like us to focus on. We'll get through this together.
Dr. Sam's Team