ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis and St. Louis County leaders plan to make a joint announcement soon about restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
County Executive Sam Page said Wednesday morning that he’s “working closely” with St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones to align the city and county’s public health protocols.
“We plan to jointly announce next steps as early as Monday,” Page said during his scheduled briefing.
The county and city have frequently followed similar guidelines when it comes to mask mandates, capacity limits and curfews. However, St. Louis County has taken different actions, at times, including when the county health department decided to close indoor dining for a second time last fall.
Page said moving forward, he and Jones will work on keeping the public health guidelines as similar as possible.
“Mayor Jones and I are committed to working closely together for the betterment of our region and public health, and the response to this pandemic is a great way to begin those efforts,” the county leader said.
Page didn’t go into specifics about what kind of changes could be on the horizon, but he did hint at shifts that are happening on the other side of the state and nationwide.
Kansas City is lifting most restrictions on restaurants and bars, allowing them to operate at full capacity beginning Friday, as long as the indoor mask mandate is still followed. The city and county are both currently operating at a 50% occupancy limit for businesses. The city is under a midnight curfew, while the county dropped the curfew a few weeks ago.
On Tuesday, the CDC rolled out updated outdoor mask guidelines for those who have and haven’t been vaccinated. One of the biggest takeaways was that fully vaccinated adults don’t need to wear a mask outside anymore, unless they’re in a crowded situation. Page said plans are in the works to adopt the new CDC guidelines and that an announcement would be coming soon.
Page also quoted President Joe Biden who on Tuesday said the U.S. is making great progress in vaccination rates, with about two-thirds of seniors fully vaccinated. However, the president warned the country still has a long way to go in getting shots into arms.
Getting more people vaccinated locally will be key to loosening restrictions, Page stressed.
“The easing of restrictions is made possible as more people get vaccinated, and I urge everyone to get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Page said.
Page also stressed that COVID-19 testing rates are lower than what the county health department would like to see. At the height of the pandemic, the health department was testing about 275 people a day. Last week, that number dropped to about 25 people a day. The county executive asked that anyone who was potentially exposed to the virus to seek a free a test.
St. Louis County is averaging 140 new COVID-19 cases a day, according to the county health department's dashboard as of Wednesday morning. The county's positivity rate is at 5.1%.
The City of St. Louis is averaging 30 new COVID-19 cases a day, according to the city's dashboard. The positivity rate is at 6%, which is above the goal of 5% or less.