ST. LOUIS – St. Louis City and County are issuing strong recommendations that residents wear masks in indoor public spaces.

City and county officials describe the number of new COVID hospital admissions as “alarming.” In a recent seven-day period, the city and county surpassed the CDC’s threshold of 200 cases and 10 hospital admissions per 100,000, moving the area into the high category for transmission.

That data is prompting some businesses and public places to bring their indoor masking requirements back. Schnucks markets are requiring employees and vendors at its stores in St. Louis and St. Louis County to wear masks. Customers are not required to wear masks, though Schnucks said it strongly recommends them. The Gateway Arch is now requiring employees and visitors to wear a mask inside all Arch spaces and exhibits.

“We do have masks available. There’s a lot of people who kind of forgotten about that need and they don’t have them with them, so we do have them available for visitors who have forgotten them at our front desk,” said Pam Sanfilippo, Gateway Arch program manager.

Doctors say the coronavirus will keep circulating as long as it has a path to replicate.

“We’re very fortunate that the strain of the virus that is circulating now isn’t causing a huge amount of serious illness, so I think that’s one of the takeaways from this is that even though it is spreading and, I know anecdotally … a number of have tested positive for COVID, and that seems to be more than any other time during the pandemic,” said Dr. Alex Garza, St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.

St. Louis City and County health officials also are strongly recommending wearing masks in outdoor crowded places where social distancing cannot occur.