St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis will enact “stay at home” orders, which will take effect Monday, March 23, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

Both County Executive Dr. Sam Page and Mayor Lyda Krewson said it wasn’t a decision they “made lightly.”

“We are choosing saving lives over the economic impact,” Page said. “The economy will bounce back, and we will be stronger.” 

The order means that everyone in the city and the county — including incorporated and unincorporated areas — must stay home, except for making essential trips or outdoor recreation. Everyone must abide by social distancing guidelines at all times, including staying six feet from other people outside of their households.

It also means that all county businesses are required to cease all activities, except for “minimum basic operations” and working from home. There are 31 categories of businesses that are excluded, including those related to food, health care, government and media outlets. However, all businesses must abide by social distancing requirements. 

The order restricts travel to things like going to work at an “essential business,” to buy food, to care for other people, and to get learning materials or meals from schools.

It also states, “No person shall organize or attend an intentional gathering of any number of people occurring outside a residence or essential business. Nothing in this order shall be interpreted to prohibit gatherings of members of a single household.”

The first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread of the virus in the United States was reported on January 30, 2020.  The first confirmed instance of COVID-19 in St. Louis County was reported on March 7, and for the city, it was March 16. St. Louis County now has 17 confirmed cases as of March 21 at p.m. The county health department cannot determine where seven out of the eight most-recently confirmed cases contracted the virus. Only one of them was a travel-related case. St. Louis city has five confirmed or presumptive positive cases, and all of them are thought to be travel related, according to the city health department. 

The city and county declared states of emergency on March 13. Both circuit courts have put moratoriums on evictions. In the county, there is also a pause on foreclosures. 

The announcement is the result of weeks of collaboration between the two leaders together with County Executive Steve Ehlmann of St. Charles County, County Executive Dennis Gannon of Jefferson County, and Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker of Franklin County.  All are considering additional restrictions. 

However, St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann said now is not the time.

“I do not believe we are in a situation where government should be deciding which businesses must close and which may stay open,” Ehlmann said in a statement. 

Also today, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued an order for all Missourians to practice social distancing and limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, which goes into effect Monday, March 23. Parson said churches are exempt and must practice “personal responsibility.” However, churches in St. Louis city and county are not allowed to gather, as ordered by Page and Krewson. Parson’s order also states that restaurants and bars in Missouri can only provide take-out service.

On Friday, March 20, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a “shelter in place” order for the entire state starting Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m. through April 7.

Illinois has 585 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has had five deaths. Illinois has tested nearly 4,300 people, according to the state’s website. Missouri has tested about 400 people, and has 73 confirmed cases, as of 9 p.m. on March 20. The number jumped from 47 at just 6 p.m. the same day, and 28 cases the day before. Now that Missouri is ramping up testing, Gov. Mike Parson said on Friday, “These numbers are going to rise,” Parson said. “As we continue to test, we will find more people who will test positive.”  

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