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Krewson closes City Hall to public, says city will release COVID-19 data by ZIP code

Krewson closes City Hall to public, says city will release COVID-19 data by ZIP code

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Board of Freeholders holds first meeting,

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson listens as the Board of Freeholders begins its first meeting without any city members inside the aldermanic chambers at St. Louis City Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Board members representing St. Louis County and the state of Missouri held off any substantive discussion. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — In an about-face, Mayor Lyda Krewson late Tuesday announced that City Hall will be closed to the general public until further notice.

The mayor’s shutdown order, which also covers other city government buildings, follows a renewed call for such action because of the coronavirus threat earlier in the day from Aldermanic President Lewis Reed.

The mayor’s spokesman, Jacob Long, said the change wasn’t due to pressure from Reed. “We were going in this direction anyway because the community spread is obvious,” Long said.

In other developments:

• City officials said the city health department on Wednesday will begin releasing some information regarding COVID-19 by ZIP code. “We now have cases in every ZIP code” in the city, Long said.

St. Louis County also plans to start releasing data by ZIP code sometime this week, a county spokesman said.

• Two additional city employees have tested positive for COVID-19, Long said, bringing the total to four.

Regarding City Hall, Long said a very limited number of city workers will continue to do their jobs from offices there, with many others working from home.

Drop boxes are being set up in the lobby at the Tucker Boulevard entrance to City Hall and at the main entrance to the city office building at 1520 Market Street for people leaving payments and other materials for agencies inside.

City marshals in charge of security checkpoints at those entrances will make sure drop-offs reach the right office, Long said.

The city Fire Department previously had closed off firehouses to visitors, Long said.

Reed earlier Tuesday urged the mayor to shut down City Hall because “it is not worth the risk” to members of the public and city workers.

“We must practice what we preach,” he said in an apparent reference to the mayor’s stay-at-home order issued last week in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. Government workers are among those exempt from the order.

Reed made similar comments a week ago.

In response, Long had said few residents were coming into the building over the past two weeks anyway and that the city administration was still trying to provide basic services for those who need them.

As an example, he mentioned someone bringing specifications for a building permit to City Hall. Now such people will have to do that via the drop box.

Regarding the employees who tested positive, Long declined to say what agencies they work for or give their work locations. He said various other city workers are being monitored under quarantine.

On Saturday, Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, said a sergeant in the police department’s traffic division had tested positive and another officer was in the hospital awaiting test results.

Roorda on Tuesday said two additional police officers have since been hospitalized and also are awaiting testing results.

Meanwhile, Mary Goodman, Reed’s legislative director, said their office has direct knowledge of at least five city employees testing positive. She didn’t elaborate.

Reed in his statement complained that visitors potentially could be exposed as they go through security checkpoints at City Hall and that city marshals who check them through also were in danger.

He also said people coming into the building weren’t always adhering to the social distancing guidelines.

Updated at 6:55 p.m.

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