ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Pockets of north and west St. Louis County have seen the county’s highest concentrations of COVID-19 cases, according to data released Friday.
A map released by the county shows infections by ZIP code, revealing some of the hardest-hit codes across swaths of largely unincorporated north St. Louis County. Other ZIP codes in the county with higher infection rates include parts of Chesterfield, Wildwood and Clarkson Valley as well as Pagedale, Hanley Hills, Berkeley and Edmundson.
The map showed the infection rate in each of those ZIP codes at more than 150 cases per 100,000 people but did not give actual case totals or details about those infected. County officials have been publishing the age ranges of COVID-19 patients separately on a health department website, showing those 50 to 59 make up the biggest share — more than 160 of the county’s 781 cases — through Friday. Men and women have tested positive at about the same rate.
The county’s seventh reported COVID-19 death was a woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions, officials said Friday. Authorities provided no other details.
“ZIP codes that have fewer cases should not become complacent or disregard the guidelines set forth,” county police Sgt. Benjamin Granda said in a statement.
Since March 22, Granda said, “epidemiological investigations indicate there is clear evidence of community transmission in St. Louis County. Simply put, this is community spread. This should renew and reinforce the call for strict adherence to the stay-at-home order.”
The county reported 44 new cases since Thursday, the day county officials announced the shutdown of all county parks through April 22. The city of St. Louis’ more than 100 parks remain open for now.
St. Louis officials this week released a breakdown of the city by ZIP code showing the two hardest hit areas as 63115, which largely includes the Penrose neighborhood, and 63103, which covers much of Midtown. As of Friday, the 63115 ZIP code had 35 cases, the highest total of any city ZIP code. The city has at least 297 cases so far, with a near equal split among men and women. Officials announced four deaths Friday, bringing the city total to five.
Also Friday, responding to growing public pressure, Gov. Mike Parson put all Missourians under a stay-at-home order, mirroring moves already made by dozens of other U.S. states to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Among those calling for a statewide shelter order were the four Democrats on the seven-member St. Louis County Council who urged Parson in a letter to expand the “first responder” classification to include grocery store workers, pharmacy technicians, sanitation employees and janitors.
The classification would give those workers more access to benefits, including screening for COVID-19, protections at work and other financial benefits. Parson has previously said he would not classify grocery workers as first responders.
The council members told Parson that because of the lack of medical services in rural Missouri, St. Louis County was one of several large jurisdictions that would provide help to rural neighbors and that “as new hot spots form, additional resources will need to be expended to broaden the reach of service while maintaining that recovering areas are not re-exposed.”
The letter was not signed by the three council Republicans, including Tim Fitch, R-3rd District, who said in an interview that he had less than an hour to see and support the letter before it went to Parson.
“It’s not our place to tell the governor what he needs to do with the entire state,” Fitch said.
Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Mayor Lyda Krewson said Friday that she thinks it’s “very likely” the city’s stay-at-home order will be extended past April 22, “but we have not made that decision. We will make that decision based on science and data” in the weeks ahead.
Krewson, too, said she personally asked Parson for the statewide shelter-in-place order. In the meantime, Krewson encourages people to stay home as much as possible and continue to practice social distancing in public places, predicting the coronavirus outbreak “is going to go on for a while.”
On Friday, the city said it sent warning letters to a dozen businesses found to have violated recent restrictions on non-essential businesses or groups of 10 or more people. The list of non-compliant businesses includes a church, a barbershop, beauty product suppliers, car washes, a deli and a funeral home.
A day earlier, St. Louis County officials said more than 40 businesses had been warned to close after failing to comply with county orders issued to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Jeremy Kohler of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.(tncms-asset)94e69f5a-6d22-11ea-a930-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)