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Why St. Louis city and county have different COVID-19 restrictions

New restrictions go into action in both areas soon, but they vary

ST. LOUIS — "We're so consumed by COVID--I am, I certainly am--and I know many of you are as well--but there's still a lot of momentum happening in this city,” said Mayor Lyda Krewson at the close of her Friday briefing—celebrating St. Louis businesses that she says are important to keep open.

“We're trying to put the restrictions where we know the problem to be, which is in private gatherings,” she said.

An order issued that goes into effect Saturday prohibits private gatherings of more than 10 people, indoors or outdoors. Weddings and funerals are not included. The city cites numerous factors, including evidence that transmission is “occurring primarily in gatherings among friends, families, and neighbors, in and around homes."

“We don't just want to issue a variety of mandates,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting Health Director of the City of St. Louis. “We really want the community to understand why these mandates are in place.

Critics point to the difficulty in enforcing anything like this--something Mayor Krewson acknowledges.

"So if you want to ignore it, I guess you will."

Alderwoman Cara Spencer, running for mayor this spring, says that’s a problem—and more needs to be done.

“I would describe it as the county taking more proactive actions to stop the spread of coronavirus. Look, I don't want to close down restaurants either, but the reality is, if we don't get this pandemic under control here locally are not we are putting the health of our citizens, our residents, in great danger.”

So why the divergence in city and county?

“So we try our best to work with our other counties in the region, however, that there is not always perfect alignment, but what we also do is we have to look at what's left to look at data specific for the City of St. Louis,” said Dr. Echols. “We've got to be mindful of the economic impact of COVID as well.”

He says economic implications “absolutely” have a role in health guidance.

“What happens when we have these mitigation measures in place but we can't provide additional support to our most vulnerable populations? So we have to look at the entire picture so that to make sure that we're doing our very best to protect our most vulnerable to this very, very, very unprecedented time,” he said. “You know, finding that balance between health and the economy—it’s difficult, but it is doable.” 

RELATED: St. Louis city to limit gatherings beginning on Saturday

RELATED: ‘We can’t responsibly wait any longer’ | St. Louis County’s new COVID-19 restrictions