ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases for the third day in a row Friday.
The St. Louis County Department of Public Health website reported 375 new cases over the last 24 hours. The largest single-day increase in cases also pushed the county over the 10,000 mark, bringing the total to 10,319 confirmed coronavirus cases.
The county reported one new COVID-19-related death Friday. There have been 627 residents who’ve died because of the virus, the county reported in its online data portal.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page talked about the increase in cases during the question-and-answer portion of his briefing Friday morning.
He said given the latest trends, it could be very difficult for schools to hold in-person classes this fall.
“With the trajectory that we’re currently going right now, it’ll be very difficult for schools to have in-class teaching. The next four weeks, four weeks from now, that will be very difficult,” Page said.
He emphasized there have been no final decisions on whether schools must start with online learning, and that he and other county leaders will continue to watch the trends through the weekend.
“As this trend is going, it will be very difficult for schools to have anything other than an all virtual curriculum,” he added, saying if that happens there will need to be plans in place for kids of parents who work on the front lines.
Several school districts have released their back-to-school plans for the fall. Many of them include virtual options for families to choose. Other school districts are holding off on releasing final plans at the request of county officials.
During the first two full weeks of July, new COVID-19 cases increased across all age groups, the county reported in its new analysis.
The steepest increase was among people ages 10 to 19 years old, with a 204% jump between July 2 and July 15.
Page said the increase in cases overall – and the rising number of new hospital admissions reported by the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force – has the county considering more restrictions.
“We are talking about more restrictions. We're considering more restrictions,” Page said. “The hospital admission rate is getting close to that 40 admissions per day mark that we had set several weeks ago as the point where we would start talking about more restrictions.”
On Thursday, the task force reported 40 new COVID-19 hospital patients; the moving seven-day average is at 38 admissions. That moving average has steadily increased every day since July 18 when it was at 33 new coronavirus patients a day.
Page said the key to lowering those numbers and flatting the COVID-19 curve is for masks to be more widely worn and accepted.
“Masks are critical moving forward and it is our best weapon to turn the tide on this,” he said.
St. Louis County instituted a mask mandate earlier this month, as did the City of St. Louis. No other jurisdictions on the Missouri side of the St. Louis area, including the state itself, are requiring masks out in public when social distancing isn’t possible.
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