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'A shocking milestone' | St. Louis County breaks record for daily COVID-19 cases

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health reported 1,061 new COVID-19 cases Monday

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County hit a stark new record Monday. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the county reported an additional 1,000 new cases in a single day.

“Although this total includes some delayed reports from previous days, it marks a shocking milestone that underscores the severity of the crisis,” the county health department wrote in an email Monday morning.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health reported 1,061 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the cumulative total to 42,043 cases.

The seven-day average of new cases is now at 749, which is a 29% increase over the previous seven days.

To date, 917 county residents have died due to the virus.

“Our regional health care leaders are sounding an alarm. It's not a matter of if they cannot provide care to everyone, it's a matter of when,” County Executive Sam Page said Monday morning during a scheduled briefing to address the pandemic.

He further explained that doesn't just apply to COVID-19 patients. Busy hospitals affect anyone needing urgent medical care, including those who suffer heart attacks or strokes, are injured in car crashes or have been involved in a violent crime.

“We are in a dire situation two weeks away from our hospitals and health care providers making these difficult choices," Page said.

The record-breaking number comes just 12 hours before the county is set to tighten several restrictions. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, three new public health orders will go into effect:

  • Safer at home – residents urged to stay home and only go out for essentials or necessary business
  • Face mask changes – all residents 6 years old and older required to wear masks in public
  • Isolation and quarantine changes – residents asked to take personal responsibility in reaching out to close contacts after being diagnosed with COVID-19, residents should not wait for contact tracers to quarantine or isolate

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

Page urged residents to not politicize the pandemic and said the new restrictions are not meant to punish anyone, but to provide protection for the community.

“This is not politics, so please stop politicizing this. This is a pandemic. This is making people sick. This is not the cold or the flu. This is a deadly virus. Thousands of our residents are frightened and rightfully so,” he said.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell also emphasized the seriousness of the virus – and the necessity to follow the new health orders – by saying his office will not tolerate reckless behavior and it will investigate potential violations.

“While we place a higher priority on many more destructive crimes than violations of these reasonable public health orders, we will not tolerate irresponsible behavior that puts our seniors, those with underlying health issues, or any of our residents in harm's way,” Bell wrote in an emailed statement to 5 On Your Side.

“As always, we will deal with any credible allegations of wrongdoing on a case-by-case basis, and, as always, we would rather prevent crime than prosecute it. To that end, we implore all residents to be safe, wear a mask, socialize outdoors in small groups at a social distance, stay home when possible, and observe these reasonable, well-intentioned public health orders,” Bell said.

READ ALSO: Group of St. Louis County restaurants threatening to sue over new dining room restrictions

St. Louis County's new COVID-19 restrictions:

Safer at home

County residents are asked to stay at home and only go out for essential business and necessities. Essential reasons to leave the house include going to get food or groceries, going to work, getting medical care, going to places of worship and visiting others in their bubble.

Social bubbles should be limited to 10 people, including friends and family. All social gatherings also are limited to 10 people.

Indoor dining will be banned, but restaurants and bars can continue to offer patio seating, curbside and takeout.

All businesses are limited to 25% capacity, which is a reduction again from the 50% that was allowed.

Despite the restrictions, Page encouraged residents to continue supporting local small businesses, especially restaurants and bars.

"Please tip them generously. These are the folks that are hustling to make sure that you have to-go meals that you can enjoy in your home," he said.

Full details about the "Safer at Home" order can be found on the St. Louis County Department of Public Health website.

Face mask changes

Face masks must be worn by everyone 6 years old and older when they leave their house. This includes when visiting someone else’s house. An exception can be made while eating or drinking as long as social distancing is being practiced.

Masks must be worn at gyms while working out and at sports settings, except while actively playing.

Page said while 3-5-year-olds aren’t required to wear masks, it is strongly encouraged.

Exceptions to the mask rule continue to include those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask.

Full details about the new mask order can be found on the St. Louis County Department of Public Health website.

Isolation and quarantine orders

Page said the number of new cases is so extreme, that contact tracers and the county health department can’t keep up with the number of people testing positive and all of the people who’ve been exposed.

The health department is reaching out to as many people as possible, “but we won’t be able to get to everyone,” Page said.

With this in mind, the county is asking people to take more personal responsibility when it comes to isolating, quarantining and contacting those who might have been exposed to the virus.

Page laid out the following new guidelines:

  • If you test positive: Isolate for 10 days from the point of time you either tested positive or had symptoms. Tell everyone you had close contact with so they can quarantine for 14 days. Close contact includes anyone you were within 6 feet of for 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period – even if you were both wearing a mask. Do not wait for contact tracers to reach out to your close contacts.
  • If you were exposed: If someone calls to tell you they tested positive and you are considered a close contact, you’re asked to quarantine for 14 days after the last contact with the patient. Do not wait for a contact tracer to call you. If you start developing symptoms, remain quarantined and notify anyone you might have had close contact with.

Page said the health department will no longer be providing a “release from quarantine/isolation” letter. Primary care physicians will be able to do this instead.

Full details about the new quarantine and isolation order can be found on the St. Louis County Department of Public Health website.

St. Louis County also announced it'll hold several pop-up flu vaccination and COVID-19 testing clinics for county residents. Appointments are required for both and reservations can be made online on the county's coronavirus information website.

Open Monday, Nov. 16:

  • 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., John C. Murphy Drive-thru, 6121 N. Hanley Road
  • 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., South County Health Center, 4580 S. Lindbergh Boulevard

Open Tuesday, Nov. 17:

  • 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Queeny Park, 550 Weidman Road, *this is open to the general public, not just county residents
  • 8 a.m.-noon, Prairie Commons St. Louis County Library, 915 Utz Lane
  • 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., John C. Murphy Drive-thru, 6121 N. Hanley Road
  • 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., South County Health Center, 4580 S. Lindbergh Boulevard

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