Sam Page

Standing in front of boxes of protective face masks, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page, speaks to reporters, announcing new restrictions, as COVID-19 numbers have begun to rise, in Berkley, Missouri on Monday, July 27, 2020. Page announced seven new restrictions including bars to close at 10 P.M. and all businesses would be limited in capacity to 25 percent. 

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- St. Louis County Executive Sam Page's seven new restrictions and guidelines in the ongoing fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the county will go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

In part, Page said all businesses would be limited in capacity to 25 percent, down from the 50 percent it is capped at now. In addition, bars will close at 10:00 p.m.

The seven guidelines announced Monday were:

  1. Gatherings are limited to no more than 50 people in St. Louis County. Any group that had its plan for an event pre-approved should expect to be contacted by the Department of Public Health to discuss their specific circumstances. 
  2. Rolling back occupancy to 25 percent for all businesses, the level it was in June.
  3. All bars will close at 10:00 p.m. each night.
  4. Businesses that do not comply with county rules will be closed or face other consequences for the safety of employees and patrons.
  5. All people waiting for COVID-19 test results are encouraged to quarantine until results are known.
  6. Test results from all providers like Urgent Care center will be rapidly sent to St. Louis County Health Department.
  7. Teachers will be provided with a safe place to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus.

The updated restrictions and guidelines go into place on Friday evening and will hopefully last for only four weeks.

Joe Edwards, who owns Blueberry Hill in the Delmar Loop, says business has been so slow that the new capacity limits will not affect his business.

"Lucky, we're spread out enough with enough tables and chairs to be able to make 25% capacity very easily," Edwards said.

Edwards added that the bar itself will close down but tables and booths will still be open.

Under the rules, if more than 50 percent of an establishment's revenue come from food, it is deemed a restaurant and not a bar.

However, the owner of Studio Rosic, a salon, in South County says the restrictions mean a drop in businesses. She says many stylists that work in her salon have left to go work in Jefferson County.

Page said the new restrictions were put in place in hopes of having some kind of normalcy return for the beginning of the school year. Heavily restrictions now, he said, will make schools a safer place this fall.

The St. Louis County Pandemic Task Force was consulted during the decision-making process and supports the new changes. 

“These aren’t easy decisions and not something we take lightly, particularly because we know it will impact people’s livelihoods," Task Force Commander Dr. Alex Garza said. “We must take these steps if we want to flatten the curve, get our kids back playing sports and in school full-time, as well as keep everyone safe and healthy.”

The announcement comes after the county saw a 318% increase of reported new cases compared to a month ago. St. Louis County reported 523 cases on Sunday, the highest single-day increase of cases since the beginning of the outbreak. The county broke its record four times this past week, adding a cumulative total of 2,220 cases from July 20 to July 26. This total is an increase of 87.97% from the week before when the county added 1,181 cases.

The county's total cases reached 11,210 on Sunday. Cases reported in July account for 41.28% of the county's total cases with 4,628 so far. The county added 1,601 cases in all of June.

“Working closely with public health experts including the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and other regional leaders, we are concerned about the recent increase in COVID-19 cases across the region,” Page said in a press release Sunday. “New restrictions must be put in place to slow the community spread of this virus.”

COVID-19 diagnoses increased by 102% between July 2 and July 15, when the county reported a total of 1,684 cases, according to an analysis report released by the county's health department. More cases were reported since then and as of Sunday, the county's 14-day increase of cases reached 134.22%.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health has tested an average of 2,543 people per day as of July 15, with a positivity rate of 7.5%. Missouri's total cases reached 42,736 on Sunday and St. Louis County accounts for 26.23% of total cases and 52.31% of total deaths. More than 1,200 Missourians have died in the state so far.

A total of 632 St. Louis County residents died from complications caused by the virus as of Sunday, 64 of them died in July compared to 128 in June.

While reported deaths have decreased, the average new hospitalizations for COVID-19 increased by 73% at St. Louis metro area hospitals between July 2 and July 15. Doctors with the St. Louis Metropolitan Task Force say 70.6% of inpatient beds are filled.

"I wish I had better news to deliver today but we're continuing to see some concerning increases in the number of people not only diagnosed with COVID-19, but sick enough to be admitted to our hospitals," Dr. Alex Garza with the task force said in his briefing Friday.

The White House recently included St. Louis on its list of coronavirus hot spots and Garza said that illustrates the need for public vigilance

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