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County Executive Sam Page Addresses 'New Normal,' Reopening Realities

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page prepares to answer questions from reporters on April 30, 2019.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County officially opened for business today. But after nearly eight weeks of coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said it won’t be business as usual, much less party time. 

Reduced capacities, masks and barriers between customers and employees will be “our new normal,” Page previously explained. And for now, other St. Louis County businesses remain closed entirely, including gyms, swimming pools and bars that do not serve food. 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Page explained that he believed the county was ready to reopen thanks to a 14-day dip in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“We believe we’ve met our milestones, which is a greater-than-14-day reduction of cases based on hospital admissions, which is what we track very closely through the pandemic taskforce,” he said. “We do believe we are getting an adequate testing footprint, not in just the tests the St. Louis County has, but those tests performed by our federally qualified health centers, our hospital systems and private labs and urgent cares.”

He added that the county can now test anyone who’s symptomatic and even those who are asymptomatic in high-risk areas.

Page reiterated that the rollout was done in coordination with the city. Differences, such as whether bars can open, are minimal, he stressed. The city has allowed bars that don’t serve food to reopen with social distancing guidelines; they remain closed in the county.

“I’m following the guidance of my public health director, and she thought, in St. Louis County, that the distancing requirements would be difficult,” Page said. “We’ve looked at the guidelines across the country, and we decided to manage it a little more differently.” 

Page said he does not intend to use law enforcement to enforce the rules. He said he hopes peer pressure will serve as a deterrent to would-be rule breakers.

“We don’t want to get in the business of sending police to enforce social distancing … only in extraordinary cases,” he said. “I think the punishment for not following social distancing guidelines, for the most part in most cases, will be a lack of acceptance in our community by our peers.”

Listen to hear the full conversation:

For more information, check the St. Louis County website devoted to coronavirus-related guidelines. 

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Sarah Fenske joined St. Louis Public Radio as host of St. Louis on the Air in July 2019. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.
Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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