ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County is extending its COVID-19 restrictions, keeping them in place at least through Christmas.
County Executive Sam Page made the announcement Monday morning, saying the “Safer at Home” health orders will be extended for another two weeks.
“The number of cases and hospitalizations remains too great,” Page said Monday. “There is simply too much of the virus in our community to let this public health protocol today.”
Page said the St. Louis County Department of Public Health will continue to work with the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force to monitor numbers and trends.
Some of the COVID-19 numbers have started to plateau over the past few days, Page said, after hitting record levels. The county executive said local health officials believe the leveling off is the result of the restrictions that went into place a month ago – the same restrictions he extended Monday.
He said the county needs to see a downward trend in coronavirus numbers before restrictions can be loosened.
Page discussed the optimism the COVID-19 vaccine brings to the St. Louis area, but said it’ll be well into the spring before enough people are vaccinated.
The restrictions first went into effect on Nov. 17. The latest health order included three main changes to the county’s guidelines:
- 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 a call from contact tracers to quarantine or isolate
Included in those orders are bans on gatherings of more than 10 people, a ban on indoor dining at restaurants and bars and limiting business capacity to 25%.
More information about each of the new public health orders is available on the St. Louis County health department’s website. More details about each health order are included below.
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 is banned. Restaurants and bars can continue to offer patio seating, curbside and takeout.
All businesses are limited to 25% capacity.
Full details about the "Safer at Home" order can be found on the St. Louis County Department of Public Health website.
Face mask requirements
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.
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 has said the number of new COVID-19 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 when first announcing the new orders in November.
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.