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St. Louis officials consider pulling back reopening because of COVID-19 rise

St. Louis officials are considering whether to restore some of the restrictions that were imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus after the state reported its second-largest single day increase in new cases.

Mayor Lyda Krewson noted that “COVID numbers continue to not look very good” in announcing Wednesday that meetings were taking place to discuss possible changes, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The state reported 888 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the overall number to 29,714. The only other day with a bigger jump was Tuesday, when 936 new cases were reported.

The mayor’s spokesman, Jacob Long, told the AP on Thursday that no announcements are planned at this time but that Krewson and her staff are “remaining in constant conversation with our health care partners about possible next steps.”

Dr. Alex Garza, director of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, which includes the area’s four major hospital systems, said that there are “very few levers to pull, outside of then pulling back on those societal restrictions.”

A primary driver of new COVID-19 cases is infections among teens and young adults, who experience milder symptoms and faster recovery, including outbreaks from youth sports.

In St. Louis County, there have been six to eight new cases of COVID-19 reported daily in young people ages 10 to 19, county officials said. At least two high schools, Eureka and Kirkwood, have reported cases in student-athletes participating in football workouts.

“We know that gatherings of young people and adults around youth sports are the primary source of spread in the community,” County Executive Sam Page said at a news briefing Wednesday.

Other areas also have been hard hit. Just south of Kansas City in Cass County, 47 infections have been linked to a party that drew hundreds on the eve of Independence Day, health director Andrew Warlen told the AP on Thursday.

Since some party-goers were also involved in summer school activities, both the Pleasant Hill and Harrisonville school districts shut down extracurricular activities for 14 days, KCUR reports.

Gov. Mike Parson has said he will not issue a statewide order requiring face coverings. But several cities are requiring them in an effort to reduce virus transmission. Among them is Springfield, where an ordinance took effect Thursday. Amid the rise in cases, the city’s Ozarks Technical Community College also decided to cancel its commencement ceremony.

OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon said that staff came to the conclusion “that the event, no matter how well planned, poses too much risk for our graduates, their guests and our employees,” the Springfield News-Leader reports.


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