St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced Monday he will extend a stay-at-home advisory, indoor dining ban, gathering ban and broader mask mandate for another two weeks beyond its original Dec. 15 deadline to try to stabilize the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Under the continuation of the “Safer at Home Order,” St. Louis County residents will be encouraged through the end of the year to stay home and only leave to go to work, school, medical care, grocery shopping and other essential activities in the modified stay-at-home order.
Page noted when he announced the extension of the advisory Monday that after reaching record-setting levels, hospitalizations had plateaued for about three or four days. While it was too soon to see if that was a trend, he said the numbers are still too high and need to come down.
“While the numbers in our hospital systems are no longer at record levels, they remain way too high to consider removing any protocols that could jeopardize the lives and result in a devastating setback in the work of our community,” Page said. “So please stay at home unless you must leave for work, school or an appointment.”
The county executive “strongly urged” older residents to have their groceries and prescriptions delivered. Gatherings in homes have to be 10 people or less. Indoor dining at restaurants remains closed, with curbside, takeout and delivery allowed.
St. Louis County was set to receive its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine as soon as Monday, with the county Department of Public Health purchasing ultra-cold freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine that was partly developed in St. Louis County — one of three vaccines for the virus.
The state of Missouri is spearheading the vaccine response locally, and health-care workers and nursing home residents and workers were set to receive the vaccine first, a process that should take until January. Next will be first responders, teachers, child care providers and other essential workers. Mercy Hospital South was set to give the first immunizations to health-care workers at 1:30 p.m. Monday.
“Despite this incredible pace, we know it will be well into the spring before enough people have been vaccinated,” Page said, adding, “We have come a long way, but this journey is far from over. We have put in aggressive measures here in St. Louis County, including one of the country’s first stay-at-home orders in March. As the largest county in the state and with the first recorded case in Missouri, we moved swiftly to control the spread.”