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More testing could give St. Louis officials a better guide on reopening economy

"Until we get really strong testing capabilities, we are going to be dealing with less data than we like to have," Mayor Krewson said

ST. LOUIS — Parts of the Show-Me State are reopening their shops and restaurants. Phase one of Missouri's recovery plan started Monday.

RELATED: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson gives COVID-19 briefing on first day of state's reopening

RELATED: Everything you need to know about Missouri's reopening plan that begins on Monday

But St. Louis city and county pumped the brakes.

Both areas remain under stay-at-home orders, as they plan to gradually reopen the economy.

RELATED: Continued stay-at-home orders 'really the right thing to do' in St. Louis area, doctors say

A big reason why they're treading lightly? The St. Louis region has the majority of the virus cases in the state.

County Executive Dr. Sam Page said the county's decision to reopen will be data driven. And in order to know how widespread the virus is, more testing needs to be done.

"We need to have a robust testing environment and we need to test everyone that is asymptomatic and in congregated centers, high risk areas," Page said.

RELATED: St. Louis County Executive says reopening timeline could come this week

Mayor Lyda Krewson agrees.

"We are hoping these tests get more available. Until we get really strong testing capabilities, we are going to be dealing with less data than we like to have," she said.

RELATED: St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson says reopening announcement could come this week

Fortunately on Monday, two new testing sites announced their arrival.

Better Family Life in north city will have a mobile unit beginning May 5.

Credit: Better Family Life

"You cannot have too many testing sites. We're just looking forward to helping this community on surviving this crisis," Interim CEO Darryl Grimes told 5 On Your Side.

They'll start with Tuesday's operation and then plan to extend their services. Since it will be mobile, they hope to go to several locations per week.

Over in north county, Fairview Elementary in Jennings will open a testing site on May 6.

Credit: Jennings School District

"To test more people is to truly know how many people were infected or affected," Superintendent Art McCoy added. 

More tests may result in more cases, but that means these departments will be doing more contact tracing.

Dr. Alex Garza, incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said looking at recent data such as the seven-day average of new patients being admitted to hospitals is gradually falling.                                        

“And that’s a really encouraging trend as well. The new hospital admission data is more timely than the hospitalization data because it shows those new admits coming in every day. So, we’re really hopeful of this trend line and it’ll be an important and timely indicator as we’re looking to reopen the economy," Dr. Garza explained.

But as we wait for numbers to continue taking dip, we can still do our part.

"Wash your hands, clean surfaces, calling your provider if you're feeling sick. These are all critical steps to keep the infection rate low," Dr. Garza reminded residents.

Mayor Krewson said the city and county are working together on a timeline to reopen their economies and may be able to open by mid-May.

In the meantime, residents are urged to follow the stay-at-home order a little while longer.

RELATED: When St. Louis area counties and cities plan to reopen