ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Health officials expect hospitalizations and ICU admissions to begin to peak this week in St. Louis County, County Executive Sam Page said during his briefing Monday morning.
“We will begin revisiting what an opening of government will look like over the next couple of weeks. We expect over this week that the hospitalizations, the ICU admissions will begin to peak – as that happens, we’ll be able to revisit what opening up the government will look like and what opening up the businesses in our community will look like”
Page said we don’t want to do it too soon.
“As Dr. Garza last week, we have the past to guide us. We know in 1918, when they opened too soon, the second and third peaks were even more deadly than the first.”
Page said he and other officials are watching the models very closely, along with feedback from public health officials.
Page reiterated that the stay-at-home order has been extended indefinitely with plans to revisit in mid-May.
Also during the briefing, Page took a moment to say, “thank you.”
“The sacrifices our citizens are making are working: staying at home when possible, wearing a mask in public and practicing social distancing is what’s keeping this virus in check – we know it’s difficult, but we have to do it.”
He said we have many heroes on all fronts and thanked the health care workers, grocery workers, MetroBus workers and more.
“When the worse comes our way, we step up as a community,” Page said. “I’m really proud of St. Louis County and the St. Louis region for how far we’ve come.”
On April 24, the county is expected to receive nearly $175 million from the CARES Act.
“We can buy more testing supplies, which is what we need to take care of sick people in our community and to come up with a pathway to open our businesses and commerce,” Page said.
He said the testing market is competitive.
“I would very much like to start this reopening in mid-May, and it’s not responsible to do that unless we have an active testing environment and we need to move quickly to purchase these tests,” Page said.
As of April 20, there are 2,288 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the county. Eighty-one people have died due to the coronavirus in the county, according to its dashboard.
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“The funds will also be used to pay for hotel stays for first responders who are quarantining away from their families.”
“Hotel rooms are also available to take care of unhoused individuals who are COVID-19 positive so they can be in isolation safe and not without a place to live. The funds will be used to cover overtime for first responders, they’ll be used to support our use dignity transfer center which is scheduled to open Tuesday to provide relief for funeral homes and hospitals in the region that might be overwhelmed.”
Page said he has requested legislation that will create a transparency portal. Anyone online will be able to see where the CARES Act funding is going.
“It’s imperative people know how this money is being spent,” Page said.
He said the money must be spent with urgency and responsibility.
“The more people we get tested, the more they have access to the health care they need and the quicker we can get our economy moving again,” Page said.
Page said he’s spoken with more than 65 county mayors, several who are concerned about the economic impact.
“Working closing with our municipal leaders and the business community – planning will begin immediately to see how we can loosen our social distancing restrictions and begin to open our economy,” Page said. “We’re also looking at what reopening our parks could look like – I hope to have more information in the next few days.”
Page said when the county begins to loosen restrictions, they will be gradual, and he said those conversations will begin in mid-May.
There is a protest scheduled in Clayton for Tuesday.
“We have to recognize this a frustrating event for everyone – it’s frustrating to be in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, which is historic,” Page said. "People have the right to organize and speak up – I hope they do it in a responsible way with social distancing”
Page will hold COVID-19 briefings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on his Facebook at 8:30 a.m. as long as the pandemic continues.