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 might help. Here are some highlights:
- Friendly reminder that 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/. See past briefings at the Youtube channel HERE.
- 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. You can read last week's County Executive Report HERE. This week's meeting is at 6:30pm on June 2. To join, dial call +1-408-418-9388 and enter the Access code: 791 523 981. 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.
- Every Tuesday, the County Council Special Committee for Oversight of COVID-19 Funding and Expenditures holds its meetings at 10:00am. 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. The Committee provides special oversight over spending of the $173 million in federal CARES Act grant funding.
- Racism is a public health crisis. As our community grieves the tragic death of George Floyd, Sam stands in solidarity with everyone against injustice.
- St. Louis County’s slow, gradual reopening began Monday, May 18th. Specific guidance (available at www.STLCorona.com) has been provided for various industries, including hotels, business offices, restaurants, construction, transportation services, personal services, retail, daycare and summer camps. You can find all of those on www.STLCorona by clicking the green "reopening guidelines" button on the main page or by clicking HERE.
- Following images from Memorial Day parties at the Lake of the Ozarks, Dr. Page issued a travel advisory asking every St. Louis County resident returning from a holiday weekend trip at the Lake of the Ozarks or anyone who was in a large crowd to self quarantine for 14 days. The photos that emerged from the weekend do not reflect the choices of the majority of individuals in the St. Louis County community. Crowds are a hotbed for the spread of the virus and social distancing remains extremely important. Learn more about the travel advisory here. Unfortunately, on Friday we learned that at least one person who went to various bars at the Lake of the Ozarks has been diagnosed with COVID-19, illustrating the need to remain vigilant.
- Governor Mike Parson joined Sam on Friday, May 29th to recognize St. Louis County’s approach to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The County’s approach, which includes a high-risk task force that tracks nursing home facilities and a quick response team that assists if there is an outbreak, is a model for best practice to monitor high risk populations. The State Emergency Management Agency and the State Department of Health and Senior Services are working to replicate the model.
- So far, the County has distributed over 30k masks and PPE to residents and staff of these facilities.
- The High Risk Task Force reaches out daily to every long-term care facility in the County and provides educational pieces and PPE when needed. The Quick Reaction Teamcan be mobilized 24/7 to provide assistance, training, and cleaning when an outbreak occurs.
- The St. Louis County Department of Public health was recognized at the federal level by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for their early, quick, and effective action in nursing homes in the publication, “Toolkit on State Actions to Mitigate COVID-19 Prevalence in Nursing Homes.” Read the CMS publication here: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-toolkit-states-mitigate-covid-19-nursing-homes.pdf
- St. Louis County plans to publicly identify by name the nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the county withconfirmed COVID-19 infections among residents or staff. It will be the first among local Missouri governments to do so.
- Sam has been in regular contact with members of the faith community. As of now, worship services can be held so long as congregants are social distancing and the building services are held in is at 25% of the fire code capacity. Masks are highly encouraged. Many religious leaders have said they intend to continue virtual services until at least mid-June. This week, 100,000 N95 masks were distributed to the Clergy Coalition to be used in places of worship throughout North County.
- The County has set a goal of at least 1,000 tests daily and to work to better track COVID-19 testing. To reach this goal, federally qualified health systems, private labs, the Department of Public Health, and clinics will work collaboratively.
- The STL Corona website displays updated statistics on testing, results, and result ratios for COVID-19 tests. Test results are broken down by geography, race, and sex, and can be accessed at http://stlcorona.com/resources/covid-19-statistics1/
- The STL Corona website has an updated symptom checker and test locator to help individuals reach information on seeking care when needed. See those updated testing locations here: https://stlcorona.com/st-louis-county-testing-locations/
- This Tuesday is election day for municipal elections. Election judges will be wearing masks throughout the day, and voters are requested to wear masks as well. Polls will be open from 6 AM to 7 PM on Tuesday, June 2. You can find out where your polling place is by typing your current address into our Polling Place/Sample Ballot Look-Up App: http://arcg.is/y1v5m. As you may know, Dr. Page called on Secretary of State Ashcroft to expand absentee voting back in April. If you qualify for absentee voting but have missed the deadline for mail-in ballots, you can still vote absentee in person at the Board of Elections Office, 725 Northwest Plaza Dr., St. Ann, MO 63074. The Board is regularly sanitizing surfaces and wearing PPE to keep you safe. It will be open Monday from 8am-5pm.
- Summer day camps will be able to open with guidelines on June 1. You can find the guidance for summer camps HERE. As always, public health data and trends will be followed closely. The opening of pools, gyms, and youth adult athletics, without fans and with guidelines that are under development, is tentatively scheduled for June 15. Specific guidance for those activities will be provided in the coming weeks.
- New health and safety guidelines are being distributed for youth and adult sports. Such activity can commence on June 15th as long as participants and organizers adhere to the St. Louis County Department of Health guidelines. The St. Louis County Department of Health notes, "Playing sports with or against other individuals during this time holds an inherent risk that someone may become infected and, in turn spread the virus to other individuals in their household or community. Please consider this risk when allowing your child/teenager to participate in organized sports. Teams, clubs, and organizers must be familiar with recommendations from their national, state, and local governing bodies regarding illness (including but not limited to COVID-19)." More information can be found on the STL Corona website.
- The County has set aside $47 million in CARES Act funding, awaiting guidance from the federal government on how we can support our municipalities and unincorporated St. Louis Countywith those funds. The federal guidelines on CARES Act spending contain strict criteria. If those criteria are not followed, the municipalities would have to repay any funds not following the guidelines (and, if the December 30, 2020 deadline on spending has passed, those funds could be forfeited altogether). The Municipal League has identified $47 million in need. While we await federal guidance, the Municipal League has been asked to tabulate COVID-19 related expenses so that we can get funds into the community as soon as possible - while being in compliance with federal law.
- St. Louis County Library locations continue to be closed to the public, but curbside checkout will begin this Wednesday June 3. To use the service, simply place library material on hold and choose any branch as your pickup location. When your holds are ready you will receive an email notification with instructions for pickup at your chosen branch. Curbside checkout hours are 1-6PM Monday-Thurs and 1-5PM Friday-Saturday. Books and other materials you may have checked out can be dropped off at all St. Louis County library locations. Due dates for materials have been extended to June 30.
- Cliff Cave branch library was added to the nine library branches that provide meals for children 18 and under. Operation Food Search provides two shelf-stable breakfasts and two lunches per child on M/W/F from 10am-12pm. Read more here:
- The application deadline for the Small Business Relief Program is tonight, May 31, at 11:59pm. Grants awarded under the program 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. Please go to www.STLCorona.com to fill out an application.
- The STL Corona website has a page of resources for dealing with anxiety and stress, which are common during situations of crisis. Check out the website to get help for yourself or a friend.
- This week, the County Executive’s Office provided several tips for how to talk to children about the ongoing pandemic and COVID-19. The tips are:
- Remain calm. Remember that children will react to both what/how you say it.
- Reassure children that they are safe and it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Make yourself available to listen and to talk. Let children know they can come to you when they have questions.
- Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
- Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.
- Provide information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child. Talk about how some stories may be inaccurate. Children may misinterpret whatthey hear about something they do not understand.
- Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs such as hand washing.(Facebook)
- A reminder that you can see CARES Act expenses for yourself in the 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. If you have questions about what you see there or would like additional information, send your question by email to OpenData@stlouisco.com.
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