CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- St. Louis County officials held a press conference Friday morning to declare a state of emergency in the county and announce an executive order on crowd restrictions and other changes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"We must do what we can to slow the spread of this virus," County Executive Sam Page said. "The county's role in this crisis is to prepare, educate, and respond. That's what we've done, and that announcements I'm making today are a continuation of those efforts."

Page announced the county would prohibit gatherings of 250 people or more until further notice, a day after St. Louis City announced it would ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

[READ: St. Louis City bans gatherings of more than 1,000 people amid coronavirus concerns]

Churches are exempt from the order, but Page asked the the faith community use common sense on what's best for their congregations. 

Page said he believes there are more people with the coronavirus in the community than the one confirmed case and they don't know it because symptoms are mild.

The first Missouri confirmed coronavirus case was announced in St. Louis County on Saturday, March 7. A 20-year-old Ladue woman tested positive after returning to St. Louis from Italy. 

The second Missouri case was announced on Thursday, March 12. Gov. Parson said a Springfield resident in their 20s had traveled to Austira and tested positive for COVID-19. 

Page asked employers and the county's own civil service board to be flexible about time off for anyone needed to stay home and self quarantine.

He admitted that there weren't enough tests to check as many people who need testing, so they're limited by the CDC guidelines that focus on the most at risk.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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