ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A St. Louis County woman is quarantined in her family's Ladue home after she became the first person in Missouri to test positive for COVID-19.
State and local health officials said she had recently returned from studying abroad in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus outbreak. She attends an out-of-state university.
Her test results are being called "presumptive positive" because the test she was given was not FDA approved, but the results are being treated as a positive result. It was processed at a health lab in Missouri. Last month, the state health department received federal approval to run tests in its own health lab.
In his press conference Saturday night, Missouri Governor Mike Parson said the state health department is working to figure out where she was and trying to contact anyone she may have had contact with.
In the hours since her diagnosis was announced, more information about her path home has been revealed. These are some of those details
On March 2, she returned to the United States, landing in Chicago, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said. The plane landed at O'Hare International Airport.
On March 4, the woman took Amtrak Train 303 from Chicago back to St. Louis. According to Amtrak's website, the 303 train leaves the Chicago station daily at 9:25 a.m. and arrives in St. Louis at 3 p.m. It continues until it arrives in Kansas City at 9:40 p.m.
In a statement, Amtrak said the train has been taken out of service and working with health officials to identify passengers and employees who may have made contact with the woman.
"We are working in close contact with public health and emergency management teams to have the best available information to be able to share with our customers and employees who might be affected," a statement from Amtrak said. "Amtrak is notifying passengers and employees who may have been on the same train, and as a precaution, we have taken the train out of service for comprehensive cleaning and disinfection, and are also working to do a thorough disinfection of the Chicago and St. Louis stations."
On Thursday, March 5, the woman called St. Louis County's health hotline complaining of symptoms similar to those of COVID-19. At that time, health officials told her and her family that they needed to self-quarantine inside their home, Page said.
A lawyer for the family had refuted that, saying health officials did not tell the family to self-quarantine.
Villa Duchesne confirmed that the younger sister of the girl who eventually tested positive attended classes on both Thursday, March 5, and Friday, March 6.
After coordinating with local health officials, the girl was taken to Mercy Hospital for testing on the morning of March 6.
During the Saturday night press conference, Dr. Alok Sengupta, an emergency medicine physician at Mercy, said employees followed all procedures to ensure she was kept away from all other patients.
He said the woman did not meet the hospital's criteria for admission, so she was returned home to continue the self-quarantine.
At 6:34 p.m., Gov. Mike Parson's office announced a press conference regarding the first COVID-19 case to test "presumptive positive" in Missouri.
At some point before that, the father of the woman and her younger sister left their home to go to two places.
According to an email sent to parents at John Burroughs, the first place was an event at the home of a Burroughs family. Classes at Burroughs will continue as usual because "the likelihood of any of the Burroughs students contracting the virus is extraordinarily low," the email said
After that, the father and daughter went to the Villa Duchesne father-daughter dance at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton.
An email from Villa Duchesne said the father and daughter left immediately when they found out.
On Sunday, Page said the family was in contact with city and state health multiple times on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All the officials made it clear that the entire family should remain under self-quarantine.
In the early afternoon, the St. Louis County Health Department was informed that the father and daughter attended the father-daughter dance.
Page said officials informed the family with a letter that if they failed to remain in their home, the county would pursue a court order that would require him to stay home under rule of law.
Later that afternoon, Villa Duchesne announced it would not be holding classes Monday.
Sunday night, the Archdiocese of St. Louis sent a message to parents, faculty and staff alerting them to what happened at the father-daughter dance. The message said students that attended the dance should stay home from school.
The Centers for Disease Control confirmed the woman from St. Louis County who had a “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus in Missouri did in fact test positive for the virus.