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St. Louis area leaders consider rolling back COVID-19 reopening measures

Mayor Krewson and County Executive Page both said Wednesday they are reviewing plans and discussing possible changes as coronavirus cases start to rise

ST. LOUIS — The top leaders in St. Louis and St. Louis County both say they are considering rolling back reopening measures as COVID-19 numbers begin to rise in the area.

“The COVID numbers continue to not look very good,” St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said during a Facebook Live update Wednesday afternoon.

The city reported 90 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, which is the fourth-highest day for new cases in St. Louis, bringing the total to 3,037 confirmed positives.

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As cases and hospitalizations increase, the mayor said city leaders will discuss possibly restoring some COVID-19 restrictions that had been loosened.

“We will be meeting here today and tomorrow to figure out if we need to take any steps to pull back,” Krewson said Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page hinted at changes of his own in the county. He said county health officials are keeping a close eye on the number of new cases among residents between the ages of 10 and 29 years old.

He specifically pointed to sporting events as a source of the rise in cases in younger residents.

“We know that gatherings of young people and adults around youth sports are the primary source of spread in the community,” Page said Wednesday morning.

County health officials and leaders are reassessing the guidelines previously released for how kids and adults can play sports.

“We’ll know more about that Friday,” he added.

READ MORE: St. Louis County considering changing sports guidelines after rise in cases among kids, young adults

The county is currently reviewing all of the guidelines it previously released, Page said, including the ones for businesses and restaurants that have slowly reopened. At this time, restaurants and retail centers are allowed to have up to 50% of their normal capacity, and that won’t be increasing soon.

“We are not currently considering at all expanding that capacity limit,” Page said. “We’d like to continue our steady reopening but of course nothing will ever be normal until we have a vaccine.”

The leader of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said on Wednesday the region is moving in the wrong direction, a trend he called concerning.

"Our numbers are not only trending in the wrong direction, they're trending in a troubling direction," Dr. Alex Garza said. "And we should all be concerned for the health and safety not only of ourselves but for our loved ones, our friends and our neighbors."

READ MORE: 'We must all act now': Task force leader says action is needed to avoid another shutdown

The state of Missouri set a new single-day high for new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with 936. On Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported another 888 confirmed cases, bringing the department's count to 29,714. The state's positivity rate increased from 5.71% on Tuesday to 5.74%.

Other states and cities across the country have taken steps back in their reopening processes due to the virus' resurgence. When asked if he thinks that could happen in the St. Louis area, Dr. Garza stressed the importance of mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing. And if the virus continues to spread, he said, there may not be many other options.

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"If we continue to see the rate of increases in cases, if we continue to see the rate of increases in hospitalizations, in admissions and people in our intensive care units, there's very few levers to pull outside of then pulling back on those societal restrictions, such as limiting capacities and rolling back how many people can gather," Dr. Garza said. "And then, of course, the most dramatic would be another shelter in place."

You can see a county-by-county breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Missouri using our interactive map below.

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