St. Louis City Marshall Tony Brown

St. Louis City Marshall Tony Brown checked the temperature of a person coming into City Hall on Tuesday, March 17, when marshals began checking all employees and visitors to City Hall. In an effort to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will not be allowed into the building. The City of St. Louis recorded its first case of the virus on March 16.  

Photo by Wiley Price / St. Louis American

Regional leaders on both the Missouri and Illinois side have made sweeping moves to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — and many of them just since the weekend.

On Wednesday, March 18, Mayor Lyda Krewson mandated that people only gather in groups of 10 people or less, following the announcement of the city’s second positive case of the novel coronavirus. She made the decision based on advice from experts from BJC HealthCare, SSM Health and Mercy Hospital, as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the city’s health director.

“We think it’s important to take that move,” Krewson said. “We know there has been community exposure to some folks. We think that there has been community transmission. We don’t know all that because we don’t have enough testing.”

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page made the same order soon after. The St. Louis County Department of Public Health announced a fifth positive case of COVID-19 on March 18.

Both Missouri and Illinois declared states of emergency. On Sunday, March 15, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an order that all bars, restaurants and food halls will only be allowed to serve take-out service until March 30. Two days later, leaders of the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, Franklin County and St. Charles County followed his lead. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 20.

“We do it for the lives we represent,” said Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker. “In doing so, we will get in front of this crisis. It’s reality. One thing about reality is if we take action sooner than later, we can change it. We are not going to wait for the results. We are going to create results.”

In addition, Page also signed an executive order requiring social distancing guidelines at all “places of public accommodations” — including workplaces, recreational facilities, or institutions of any kind — in St. Louis County to limit the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing measures include reducing the number of employees in a space, opting for virtual meetings, and reducing face-to-face contact.

“Social distancing is the new reality,” said Page. “This practice needs to become part of our daily habits, including how we enjoy dinner out. I appreciate all the entrepreneurs who will use their creativity to support our region’s health during this critical period.”

On March 16, President Trump announced new guidelines on ways Americans can help slow the spread of coronavirus: school from home if possible; avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people; avoid discretionary travel; and avoid eating and drinking at bars and restaurants and public food courts.

“As we combat the virus, each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread of the virus,” President Trump said. “It’s important for the young and healthy to understand that while they may experience milder symptoms, they can easily spread this virus. And they will spread it indeed putting countless others in harm’s way. We worry about our senior citizens.”

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