ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A Ladue family, whose older daughter has coronavirus, was not told to self quarantine ahead of the official diagnosis, their attorney said Monday.
Neil Bruntrager outlined a series of phone calls and text messages between the woman's parents and county officials during a 3-day period.
The patient - St. Louis' first with the illness - is a 20-year-old Indiana University student who had recently traveled back from Italy. She was symptom-free on her flight home and Amtrak ride earlier in the week, Bruntrager said.
St. Louis County officials said Sunday the family had been told to self-quarantine earlier in the week, as news emerged that the family had gone to a Villa dance Saturday night. Bruntrager pointed to text messages and phone calls which, he said, prove no order was given.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page insists the family was given quarantine instructions, the same instructions given to other people who have infectious diseases like tuberculoisis. News 4 has requested a copy of the instructions but the county has not provided any details on what those protocols include.
“There was certainly a lapse in judgement here, but it’s done, we’re reacting to it, we’re chasing down the contacts,” Page said.
He added it was time to forgive the family, as threats have been made on social media.
Bruntrager said the 20-year-old's symptoms started Thursday, March 5, when she woke up with a headache. The family called their doctor who advised them to call the health department. The family called twice, he said, at 9:30 a.m. and 11:26 a.m., asking for guidance. The county health department called back at 3:29 p.m Thursday, but did not advise the family to self-quarantine, Bruntrager said.
"Never, ever are they told that you have to quarantine," Bruntrager said. "There's no record to show that they were ever given any instruction regarding what to do and how to do it."
The following day, March 6, St. Louis County health officials told the family they are arranging for a test, which took four hours, Bruntrager said. Friday afternoon the family's internist told them "my gut says you don't have [coronavirus]."
Once home from the test, the family maintained a quarantine of their daughter, but the father and younger daughter continued going on with their normal lives, Bruntrager said.
"The doc says I don't think you have it. In the meantime, they are maintaining quarantine on the daughter. She's staying in her room and the only person having contact with her is the mother. Her mother is staying home," Bruntrager said. "The dad and the sister are living a normal life."
At 3:19 p.m. Saturday, when the daughter was starting to feel better, the mother reached out to the county health department to ask if there was any update about the test results. They said no, Bruntrager said. Missouri's health director said previously they received results just after 1:00 p.m. Saturday and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the county received the positive test results a couple of hours later, but they had to write "a script," and follow other procedures before notifying the family. The mother texted again at 5:07, when the county said they still didn't have results.
Then, during a 53-minute phone call at 6:30 Saturday night, county health officials told the family their daughter was positive for COVID-19, Bruntrager said. The call ended at 7:23. The mother then sat down with her daughter and talked about the diagnosis and then texted the father.
"He finally gets the text about 9:15 and comes home immediately with the daughter and they have been in their house ever since," Bruntrager said.
The father and younger daughter's attendance at the dance at the Ritz Carlton in Clayton Saturday night upset the community. Villa canceled classes all week and the Ritz announced thorough cleaning.
For more information on the virus and safety guidelines, visit the CDC’s website at cdc.gov/coronavirus. The St. Louis County Health hotline is 314-615-2660 or visit the county's website at stlcorona.com to learn more.