St. Louis County is still under a stay-at-home advisory in 2021, a continuation of an order issued by County Executive Sam Page in mid-November in response to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
In his first meeting of the year with reporters Monday, Page focused on the end of the indoor dining ban that was part of the first “Safer at Home” stay-at-home advisory issued in November, at first for four weeks and then extended to the end of the year.
But with the latest order published at stlcorona.com, the stay-at-home order is extended indefinitely, with no projected end date. That previously happened at one point for the full two-month stay-at-home order Page issued from March to May of 2020, just as the pandemic first hit St. Louis and Missouri.
Page emphasized in his remarks Monday that while things look brighter with new cases and hospitalizations down from the record highs seen in November and December, the county is still seeing daily case rates at five times the numbers seen in October before the fall surge. Hospitalizations are also down, but still twice what hospitals say they can sustainably handle.
“As we begin a new year, we do so with a vaccine that will ultimately curb the spreads of the virus and allow us to move about more safely,” Page said. “Restrictions put in place in 2020 were necessary to slow the spread and save lives, and we must continue with some of those restrictions until a vaccine is widely available later this year. … With 2021 underway, let’s stay on a safe path forward so we can continue to rebuild our economy and keep everyone healthy.”
Page said that he does not decide what public-health orders to issue, but takes recommendations from a group of public-health professionals and medical doctors.
“Our public health experts are doing their best to craft policies that protect us all from a deadly virus,” Page said Monday.
Those experts are looking at the case numbers, the percentage of positive tests, the trend in cases, the availability of testing and hospitalizations, and whether hospital admissions are trending in the right or wrong direction.
The group now also has a new data point to examine — vaccine availability and rollout in the area. St. Louis County got its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine Tuesday, although overall Missouri and states across the country have seen fewer doses than they originally expected.
“If those trends are going in the wrong direction, then we will seriously consider our restrictions,” Page said.