St. Louis County Department of Public Health COVID-19 Update
Discussing COVID-19 and Common Questions Video
To address confusion in the community surrounding quarantine, isolation and other protocols, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health has produced a video, which can be seen at https://youtu.be/Gydg0Pa65E0, and the following statement:
- Cases of COVID-19 in St. Louis County are at extremely high levels because the Omicron variant is highly contagious. More children are getting sick than ever before. This surge in cases has caused increased hospitalizations, and this is straining hospital capacity.
- Because our hospitals are full, it’s important that we do everything that we can to slow the spread. We all need there to be hospital beds and health care workers available in case we need them, whether that’s for COVID-19, a car accident or a stroke.
- We know there has been a lot of confusion recently. Public health guidance changes as new science is discovered and as circumstances change. Here's what you need to know:
- Staying up to date on your vaccinations will help prevent severe illness and keep you out of the hospital. The majority of cases and hospitalizations, including those among children, are among those who are unvaccinated. In addition, if you are eligible, please get the booster. Given the current high levels of transmission and the new variant, the booster will offer additional protection. It is also likely that this will protect you from possible long-term effects of COVID-19.
- The best protection of all is staying home as much as possible; if you are not around others, you can’t be exposed. When you must leave home for essential activities, masking and social distancing will help prevent you from getting COVID-19 if you’re exposed. Wear a well-fitting mask while indoors or in large crowds and try to keep at least 6 feet of distance from others when possible. Any mask is better than no mask, but some masks protect you more than others. This is especially important at a time when so many people are sick, so your risk of exposure is high. The most protective masks are N95s and KN95s; then surgical masks; then cloth masks.
- Isolation and Quarantine are essential to preventing the spread of Covid-19 and reducing the impact on the healthcare system. If you test positive for COVID-19, you should isolate. If you are an unvaccinated close contact of someone who has COVID-19, please quarantine. You can learn more about how to isolate and quarantine here. If you have any symptoms at all, please stay home from work and school until you can get a COVID test. The CDC recently updated its isolation and quarantine guidelines, and you can learn more about that here. Please also follow all applicable policies from your workplace or school.
- Protect those at high risk. There are extra precautions you can take if you’re at high risk of getting really sick from COVID or if you live with someone who is at high risk:
- Get vaccinated (2 doses of an mRNA vaccine) and boosted if you aren’t already
- Talk to your school or employer to discuss accommodations that keep you safe
- A properly fitting mask, like a KN95, will help protect you while in public
- Remember that people who are immunocompromised are at higher risk for severe disease and can also be infectious longer. Talk to your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms or test positive.
As a parent, when should I keep my child home from school?
We understand that there are a lot of factors you consider when determining whether you or your child should stay home, and that keeping a child home from school is difficult to coordinate. Isolation and quarantine are key tools to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among children and in the community. We need the cooperation of parents to help create the safest environment for children to learn and play. Please keep your kids home if they are sick or if they are exposed to COVID-19 and are not up to date on their vaccines. In addition, please follow your school’s guidance if your child is excluded from school. For questions about your school’s policy, you’ll need to get in touch with your school directly. For the latest public health guidance, please go to http://www.stlcorona.com or http://www.CDC.gov.
Do you (DPH) still have authority to isolate and quarantine?
Yes, DPH has the authority to do isolation and quarantine. We work with schools and partners to explain isolation and quarantine. If you have any specific questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do people still have to quarantine even if the health department doesn’t call them and tell them to?
Yes! It is everyone’s responsibility to follow CDC and DHSS guidelines when they apply to them, meaning: If you believe you have COVID, you should follow the guidelines for isolation. If you find out you’ve been around someone with COVID, you should follow the guidelines for quarantine.
What should people do if they can’t get a test and they have symptoms?
Finding a test may be difficult during this current surge in cases. If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (especially if you have a known exposure, but even if you don’t) and you can’t get a test, you should consider yourself a case. This means you should notify those with whom you had close contact, which is defined as being within 6 feet of someone for 15 minutes or more. For testing options, visit ReviveSTL.com.
If I am concerned that I have coronavirus or may have been exposed, what do I do?
Contact the St. Louis County COVID-19 Hotline 24/7 at (314) 615-2660
Where can I get information and updates?