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'Wishful thinking won't make it go away' | St. Louis County executive gives update on COVID-19

Monday’s update comes after Sam Page and Missouri health officials in separate news conferences said new COVID-19 cases are being spread primarily by young people
Credit: UPI
St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page comments about the Memorial Day weekend parties at the Lake of the Ozarks Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page gave an update Monday morning about the coronavirus situation in the county. You can watch the full briefing in the Facebook post below.

Page said as long as the coronavirus is in the St. Louis area and there is no vaccine, residents need to keep their guard up and continue practicing social distancing and other known measures that help slow the spread.

"Wishful thinking won’t make it go away, but responsible action will," Page said.

READ ALSO: Here's how to report mask violations in St. Louis and St. Louis County

The county executive said contact tracers are hard at work trying to track down how, when and where the virus is spreading. Recently, tracers pinpointed the source of where 12 people got and spread the virus.

Page said the county health department worked with jurisdictions in four counties across two states and "were able to trace these individuals back to the same manufacturing plant, same shift, they took the same lunch break in the same break room. And in this break room, they were not practicing social distancing and not wearing masks," Page explained.

He said the manufacturing plant in St. Louis County took several precautions to keep workers safe, including stepping up cleaning practices mandating masks and spacing workers apart, but wearing masks and maintaining a safe social distance were not required in the break room.

Page said at this time there is no plan to roll back the reopening that's already taken place in the county. He said health officials and local leaders and focusing on individual outbreaks and taking actions to control those situations, rather than taking more drastic measures that impact the entire county.

As far as the plans to reopen schools, Page said he's confident "it's the right thing to do."

"I believe that we have a path forward, if those conditions change then certainly we would consider modifying,” Page said.

School districts within the county plan to release their specific guidelines for reopening a week from Monday. Health and education leaders in the county already released guidance school districts can use as they build their individual plans.

READ MORE: Here are the guidelines St. Louis County schools should follow this fall

On Monday, St. Louis County reported 7,897 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, which was an increase of 88 over the last 24 hours. St. Louis County has more cases than any other jurisdiction in Missouri. There have been 603 coronavirus-related deaths in the county.

The county is reporting 112,334 COVID-19 tests have been taken so far, with a positivity rate of 3.1% over the last week. 

Monday’s update came after Page and Missouri state health officials in separate news conferences said new COVID-19 cases are being spread primarily by young people who infect many others.

Page on Friday said there has been a dramatic increase in cases in people ages 20-29.

Page gave a cautionary example of how easily the virus can spread.

He said a person in the age range of 20-29 years old had the virus but wasn’t showing symptoms and then went to “many different activities" with 25 different friends. Later, 15 of those friends ended up testing positive. The original patient has recovered.

“We are in the process of testing a long list of friends and their family members,” Page said. “I share this story not really to place blame on any one individual — that's not the point — this is just an example of how very real this virus is in our community and how easily it can spread from person to person, even when someone doesn't have symptoms.”

READ MORE: 'No one is an exception': St. Louis County sees dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases in young people

Missouri health department spokeswoman Lisa Cox on Friday said the average age of newly diagnosed cases in the past week was 37.4.

Officials suspect the actual number of people with COVID-19 is much higher than the state-released statistics indicate because many people with mild or no symptoms do not get tested.

READ MORE: COVID-19 hospital numbers, case numbers increase slightly in Missouri and St. Louis area

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said almost all the data they track increased Sunday.

  • New hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – from 35 yesterday to 36 today. *
  • The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions (data lagged two days) increased – 26 yesterday to 27 today. *
  • The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations increased from 168 yesterday to 171 today.
  • Inpatient confirmed COVID positive hospitalizations increased - from 170 yesterday to 180 today.
  • Inpatient suspected COVID positive hospitalizations decreased – from 170 yesterday to 141 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients in the ICUs increased – from 40 yesterday to 45 today.
  • The number of confirmed COVID positive patients on ventilators increased – from 21 yesterday to 23 today.
  • Across the system hospitals, 24 COVID-19 patients were discharged yesterday, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients discharged to 3,183