St. Louis Coronavirus Patient's Dad Broke Quarantine for Father-Daughter Dance, County Says

Mar 8, 2020 at 11:13 pm
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page answers questions about COVID-19 at a February news conference. - COURTESY ST. LOUIS COUNTY
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page answers questions about COVID-19 at a February news conference.

St. Louis County has warned the father of the first local coronavirus patient it could seek a court-ordered quarantine for him and the rest of his family if he refuses to stay in his Ladue home.

The family had promised to self-quarantine after the twenty-year-old woman returned last week to St. Louis from Italy and began to show symptoms of the disease known as COVID-19. But County Executive Sam Page said at a news conference on Sunday they had learned the woman's dad had taken his younger daughter — the patient's little sister — to a father-daughter dance on Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton.

"The patient’s father did not act consistently with the health department’s instructions," Page said at the news conference. "Instead, last night he decided to take his other daughter to a school function."

The younger daughter is a student at Villa Duchesne, and the school announced on Sunday that's Monday's classes would be canceled for both Villa and Oak Hill School out of "an abundance of caution." The two private Catholic schools share a campus in Frontenac.

Another school, John Burroughs School in Ladue, is also taking extra precautions after learning the father and daughter had attended an event before the dance at the home of a Burroughs family. A "handful" of Burroughs seniors visited the house later, according to an email sent on Sunday by Burroughs Head of School Andy Abbott.

The school will remain open, and it's unlikely the seniors were infected, Abbott writes. "Still, under an abundance of caution, we have asked them to stay home from school until we have more information."

The twenty-year-old coronavirus patient first reported her symptoms on March 5 and was tested at Mercy Hospital, according to the county. Page said she seems to have done everything right, self-quarantining as soon as she suspected she might be sick and following all instructions from the county health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Page said she had reacted "remarkably, maturely, responsibly" to contain virus. The father was a different story.

"The way the family has reacted to this situation is really a tale of two reactions and the tale of how people should and should not react to the coronavirus," Page said.

The twenty-year-old woman was notified on Saturday evening that she had tested positive. Her father and sister had apparently left for the dance before learning on the diagnosis, but Page said the family had been told to self-quarantine since the first contacts. Only the twenty-year-old has shown any symptoms.

In response to learning about the dance, the county sent the father a letter warning that it would seek a court order to force him to stay in his home if he and the rest of the family would not self-quarantine.

Page urged anyone else who experiences symptoms of the coronavirus to quarantine themselves.

"Stay in your home," Page said. "Stay in your home."

For more information on the coronavirus and St. Louis County's response, go here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has extensive information on its website

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