City of St. Louis Announces First COVID-19 Case

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click to enlarge This evening City of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson confirmed the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in the city. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
This evening City of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson confirmed the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in the city.

A Saint Louis University student who returned from traveling abroad has tested positive for COVID-19, the first case in the city of St. Louis.

This evening at a news conference that was streamed live on Facebook, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, speaking alongside Dr. Frederick Echols and Public Safety director Jimmy Edwards, announced that a young adult had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The patient returned to the U.S. from a country "that has evidence of ongoing transmission" of the virus, Echols said and, upon landing, drove to St. Louis. The person must have suspected they had the virus, as Echols said he or she was in touch with a medical professional en route to St. Louis and that the medical professional contacted Dr. Echols, who arranged for the patient to visit a medical facility upon their arrival on Saturday.

"At that time, the individuals did meet the standards for testing as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testing was conducted and the specimens were tested by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and around 5:15 p.m. today we received notice that the specimens tested positive for COVID-19," Echols said.

The patient is now quarantined at home. Krewson confirmed that the patient is in his or her twenties and does not live alone, although the mayor said that the patient is not believed to have infected their housemate.

"It's really important that the individual followed the instructions given by the city of St. Louis Department of Health, and because of this, there are no additional exposures," Echols said. "No other individuals are at risk from developing COVID-19 from this individual."

City officials did not identify the patient as a SLU student, but university President Fred Pestello confirmed in a letter to students the new patient was one of two students who had been tested after returning from overseas.

"I am sorry to report that this positive case is a member of our SLU community," Pestello wrote.

The two students had traveled to the same undisclosed country and were returning to their respective off-campus homes, according to Pestello's note. The test results for the second student, who has no shown any symptoms, were still pending on Monday evening.

Pestello wrote that the "students responded exactly as they should have. Even while feeling ill, the students' care and concern of SLU and the greater St. Louis community is apparent and deeply appreciated."

Asked about the relatively small number of tests available for citizens concerned they may have been infected with the virus, Krewson said she and Missouri Governor Mike Parson are working on that in tandem.

"We need more test kits, we need more lab capacity," Krewson said. "The state is working on that; I spoke with the governor about this last night. There will still be criteria for testing, because you don't want to overrun that system, so that criteria is being developed and has been developed by the three hospitals for the private testing."

With regard to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker shutting down all dine-in operations at restaurants and bars in the state, Krewson said that the increased number of confirmed cases in Illinois — currently 105 — shows a larger risk there. Instead of mandating a shutdown in St. Louis, restrictions allow no more than 50 people in a city restaurant or bar at once. When pressed about whether or not police were enforcing that mandate, Krewson said they are not at this time.

The mayor said it's a decision they'll be evaluating "all the time." Krewson said she'll be talking again tomorrow about that issue.

"What we believe is that these restaurant owners, bar owners, business owners, are all responsible folks, and they don't want anything to spread in their restaurant either," Krewson said. "While it's an incredibly difficult situation both for the small owners and the big business owners, and also for the employees. It's incredibly difficult."

As Krewson was addressing media about the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in the city, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health announced that it has been notified that a third county resident had tested positive for the virus.

"This is an international travel-related case and the patient is in the age range of 50 to 60 years old," a release from the county states. "Anyone identified during the investigation as a close contact or at risk of exposure to this patient will be contacted directly by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health."

More as we learn it.

For more information on COVID-19, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website, and for more on the local response, go to websites for the city's health department and St. Louis County's health department.

Follow Liz Miller on Twitter at
@lizzaymillah. We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected]
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