National Guard in Ferguson

Walmart guarded by National Guard on Thanksgiving Eve in 2014. Lawrence Bryant/St. Louis American

With the predicted COVID-19 surge starting to hit St. Louis County, County Executive Sam Page is calling in the Missouri National Guard

“I write to you today to formally request assistance from the Missouri National Guard,” Page wrote to Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Tuesday, April 7.

“As we move into what is expected to be the surge of this virus, we need help transporting patients and equipment and additional security at our hospitals, county warehouse and our North County Recreation Center, which we have converted into a shelter for our homeless population to reduce their level of exposure. We also need med techs to augment our staff at triage and testing sites.”

St. Louis County reported 10 new COVID-19 deaths on its dashboard on April 7, bringing the total death toll from the pandemic in the county to 24. It also reported 188 new positive tests in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the county since the onset of the pandemic to 1173. By far, these were the most COVID-19 deaths and new cases reported in one day in the county or in any other jurisdiction in the region.

Dr. Alex Garza, who leads the region’s new pandemic task force, said a surge is coming in the next two weeks. It appears the surge has begun in St. Louis County.

“My staff will forward a more detailed request to your office and to Health and Human Services Director Dr. Randall Williams outlining the number of men and women we need to continue our work as effectively as possible,” Page wrote to Parson.

Parson mobilized the National Guard on March 27 for pandemic response.

In his letter, Page also thanked Parson for issuing a Stay at Home order on April 3. However, national health experts have pointed out that Parson’s order is no different in effect than his previous social distance guidance. He ordered no businesses to close. Even businesses that perform non-essential work may still employee people in groups larger than 10 if they request a waiver from the Missouri Department of Economic Development – not the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

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