ST. LOUIS – St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page announced Tuesday that public health restrictions would begin to be reduced in less than two weeks. The first phase of reopening will begin on May 18.
Dr. Alex Garza, the Incident Commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, has advised the County that a slow, and deliberate reopening is possible. County Executive Page says that we should all wear masks in public for the foreseeable future. The masks will help limit the spread of coronavirus. But, masks are not mandatory.
St. Louis County is working on a requirement to allow businesses to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask. They are advising employers to have all workers wear masks. They are working closely with the city of St. Louis in all of the next steps for reopening.
Business guidelines coming later this week. Employers will have over a week to implement them. The phased approach to reopening means that not every business will reopen at the same time.
More tests are needed in St. Louis County to move to the next phase of stopping the virus. The new strategy uses contact tracing instead of closing businesses and public places. Until more tests are available they are monitoring hospitalizations to get a grasp on the spread of coronavirus in St. Louis County.
“If we see something unexpected then we may need to modify our orders. We need to make sure that the health system can handle the number of cases. The rate of increase is important,” said Page.
But, Page says that they expect a spike in St. Louis County cases as the region reopens.
“If we move too quickly we know what can happen. A second wave can be worse than the first,” said Page. “The biggest lesson is that there is not a big intensity to rush. People understand how serious this virus is. The vast majority of people and businesses are following social distancing guidelines.”
Page says that it is very exciting that a COVID-19 vaccine is being tested in St. Louis County.
In the meantime, Krewson and Page are reminding residents to limit the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining social distancing, wearing a face mask when out in public, avoiding large crowds, and staying home when possible.