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

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

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County is reviewing its guidelines for youth and adult sports as cases in the county start to tick up.

County Executive Sam Page said health officials are keeping a close eye on the number of new cases among younger residents, especially those between the ages of 10 and 29 years old.

According to the county's latest trend report, the prevalence of COVID-19 is currently highest among people ages 10-19 (11.7%) and 20-29 (10.2%). The latter age group is showing especially high numbers over the last two weeks, increasing 195%. The average went from 11 new cases a day to about 32, the county reported.

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

Page specifically pointed to sports gatherings as being a source of the rise in cases.

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

That has prompted county health officials and leaders to reassess the guidelines previously released for how kids and adults can play sports. Page said changes could be in the works.

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

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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.”

RELATED: St. Louis County hiring more contact tracers as coronavirus cases increase

The county executive asked residents to continue following safety measures, like frequently washing hands, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask in public.

On Tuesday, St. Louis County reported a single-day record of new confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 243 new positives. The county is reporting 8,140 total cases and 892 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon.

Credit: KSDK

Why numbers are increasing in the county

Page said there are three reasons why numbers are starting to increase in St. Louis County.

No. 1: Testing is more accessible

Page said 1,800 tests are being taken in the county each day. Early on in the pandemic, there was a testing shortage and only the most symptomatic of patients could have one taken.

No. 2: Labs are overwhelmed

Health officials in the county use a variety of labs to run COVID-19, including out-of-state private labs. Page said those labs are overwhelmed and can take anywhere from three to 10 days to get results back. He said the labs will, at times, send back results in clumps.

“Some days we’ll see 240 [new COVID-19 cases] and then another day we’ll see 80 or 150,” Page explained.

No. 3: Restrictions are loosened

With the reopening of the economy and loosening of restrictions, Page acknowledged more people are out and about in the county, especially in the younger demographics of people ages 10 to 29.

“There is more movement in the community,” he said. “We’re watching these numbers closely.”

READ ALSO: Missouri sets record for new COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations in St. Louis area continue to rise

Mask mandate

Masks are required in public and when social distancing is not possible in St. Louis County (and the City of St. Louis, for that matter). Page clarified by giving examples of when residents and people in the county do and don’t have to wear a mask.

Do wear a mask:

  • When inside businesses
  • When riding public transportation
  • When you’re not eating or drinking while at a restaurant
  • If you’re in close contact with someone who’s not in your household
  • When inside someone else’s home
  • When outside and you’re not able to practice social distancing

You don’t need a mask when:

  • Inside your own home or private office or when no one is close to you
  • You’re alone in your car or with those who live with you

"Face coverings are required so we can continue with our current status of reopening without any rollbacks,” Page reiterated.

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

St. Louis County coronavirus coverage: