CLAYTON, Mo. – St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page is asking Gov. Mike Parson for the Missouri National Guard’s help to prepare the region for the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak in the area.
On Wednesday, Fox 2 confirmed that guard members were already here and starting the pre-construction process on converting a Quality Inn Hotel in Florissant into an overflow hospital for COVID-19 patients.
The work is being done on an if-needed basis, but the building would be ready to start taking up to 100 COVID-19 patients by early next week, according to the governor, with construction beginning in earnest over the weekend.
It would be the area’s first alternate site coronavirus hospital.
Page is seeking an additional 50 guard members, including medical technicians, to be tasked with the following duties: relieving workers at “drive-thru” COVID-19 testing centers; staffing a North County recreation center that’s being converted into a shelter for the homeless to limit their exposure to Coronavirus; transporting patients and medical equipment; providing security at hospitals and at a warehouse where medical supplies are stored.
The additional guard members would not be used to police “social distancing” and “stay at home” orders, Page said.
“This is not an enforcement action but this is to help us with testing staff at our testing facilities. We hope to replace some of the nurses that are there with national guard personnel and let those nurses return to hospitals and help take care of patients there,” he said.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force has said pandemic is far from over here.
“We believe a surge is coming based on our models,” Dr. Garza said Tuesday. “The only way to slow it down or make it possible that our hospitals can handle the surge is to decrease the number of those infected.”
The county executive expected the governor to act quickly on this with the additional boots on the ground in St. Louis County within a few days.
“As we prepare for the surge of this pandemic, the national guard can play a critical role in helping us transport patients and supplies to free up our healthcare professionals to focus on treatment and care of our residents,” Page said.
This is the letter that St. Louis County Executive Sam Page sent Governor Mike Parson: