CLAYTON, Mo. ( --  As St. Louis County's stay-at-home order was set to expire Wednesday, County Executive Sam Page officially signed an executive order to extend restrictions. 

"COVID-19 is expected to crest in our region this week. Sadly, it will translate to more people testing positive. And more deaths," he tweeted. 

Page said he wants to gradually reopen St. Louis County in mid-May but that won’t be possible until more testing can be done.

“We don’t want to do it too soon,” Page said in his press briefing Wednesday morning. He said the county is watching the models closely along with the number of hospitalizations.

The county executive said social distancing restrictions would be gradually eased just as they were gradually put into place over the last month.

“I’m hopeful we can begin the gradual easing of restrictions in mid-May,” Page said. "But again we have to watch these numbers, and we have to watch these hospital admissions and see in what order those restrictions will be unwound."

[RELATED: St. Louis City, County extend stay-at-home order indefinitely; will re-evaluate at a later date]

But he also called the market to buy tests volatile and very competitive. Page plans to use the $175 million in federal relief money to buy more tests. Currently, tests are being restricted to those who are showing symptoms. There are not enough tests to use on those who don’t show symptoms.

“We don’t have enough tests now in our community,” the county executive said. "We can buy more testing supplies, which is what we need to take care of sick people in our community and to come up with a pathway to be open our business and commerce."

[RELATED: Buying more tests a top priority for $175 million in federal money allocated to St. Louis County]

Page said the county also needs the infrastructure for contact tracing, to alert those people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to get tested and quarantine.

“That’s how we reopen commerce and our community,” Page said of the importance of testing and contact tracing.

He said the county will need everyone to get through this and to balance saving the most lives and reopening businesses to save the economy.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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