Dr. Echols and Mayor Lyda Krewson

St. Louis City Health Department Director Dr. Fredrick Echols and Mayor Lyda Krewson provided an update on plans and precautions in response to  coronavirus on Thursday, March 12 at City Hall. Photo by Wiley Price

Tonight at 6:45 p.m., Mayor Lyda Krewson announced that the City of St. Louis has detected its first positive case of COVID-19. Less than 10 minutes later, St. Louis County Department of Public Health announced a third positive case in the county. Both are international-travel related cases, according to health officials. The city patient is in their 20s, and the county patient is in the age range of 50-60s.

St. Louis City Health Director Dr. Fredrick Echols said the city patient came straight to get tested upon arriving in St. Louis and did not expose the virus to other city residents.

Earlier in the day, President Trump asked Americans to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, to school from home, to avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking at bars and restaurants and public food courts.

“It’s important for the young and healthy to understand that while they may experience milder symptoms, they can easily spread this virus,” the president said. “And they will spread it indeed, putting countless others in harm’s way. We worry about our senior citizens.”

On Sunday, March 15, five government leaders from across the bi-state region released a joint statement that recommended closures of all schools and prohibited gatherings of 50 people or more amid the coronavirus outbreak. Soon after, 26 school districts collectively announced that they would close school until April 3.

The American asked Krewson if she would consider changing the guideline to reflect the president’s ask, her spokesman said, “The president just issued a suggestion, but that’s not currently recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and we are following them, so no changes yet.”

Alderwoman Cara Spencer (D-Ward 20) said she is recommending that people avoid congregating at all.

“Under no circumstance should it be tolerated to have large gatherings,” Spencer said. “This is going to be painful. This is going to cost everyone. And it’s going to cost some people their lives. The quicker we can quarantine and contain this, the better we will be.”

Governors in heavily-impacted states are pleading with their residents to stay home, and telling other states to heed their warnings.

“We know our healthcare system will be overrun,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, during an MSNBC interview. “That’s how people die. I only have 3,000 ICU beds in the State of New York. About 80 percent are already occupied. This is a disaster waiting to happen.”

In a tweet at 4:30 p.m. today, Cuomo gave this advice: Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives. Pass it on.

 Anyone experiencing symptoms of a fever, cough or difficulty breathing and have reason to believe they have encountered a person infected with COVID-19 should immediately call the St. Louis County Health Line at 615-2660 or the St. Louis City Health Department at 657-1499. For general questions and guidance contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services hotline at 877-435-8411. More information can be found on stlcorona.com.

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