CoronavirusFeaturedNewsThe SouthSider

Playgrounds close; nursing home hit hard

ST. LOUIS — All playgrounds in the city are now closed and will remain so while the “stay at home” order is in effect during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

The city Department of Health reported Friday that the order had prompted many residents to go to playgrounds, resulting in the unintended consequence of social gathering.

Dr. Fredrick Echols, the city’s health director, warned in a statement: “Although getting outside is a great option to help manage life while at home, the social mixing that’s occurring at the playgrounds increases the risk of children contracting and/or spreading the virus.”

“For social distancing to be effective there has to be and emphasis on physical distancing to limit interactions with others,” Echols emphasized. “To assist us in better achieving our goal of limiting interactions between members of the community, we find it necessary to close our city playgrounds while the Stay at Home order is in effect.”

Among the hard-hit places in Missouri is the Life Care Center, a nursing home in St. Louis that has reported six cases. Sean Buckley, executive director of the Life Care Center, at 3520 Chouteau Ave. in the Gate District, said in a written statement that four residents were hospitalized and two employees had been directed to stay at home.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the nursing home is owned by the same company that operates the Life Care Center of Kirkland, near Seattle, where 37 people died from COVID-19. Another Life Care facility in Kansas City was the site of Kansas’ first coronavirus death.

Health officials have said that three of the people who have died of the coronavirus lived at an assisted-living center in Springfield.

As of 5:00 p.m. Thursday, March 26, St. Louis reported 69 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 146 people being monitored, and 21 pending tests approved by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, in a YouTube video released Thursday, asked that any recently retired doctors, nurses or other health care professional come back to work. Page, himself a physician, said he was worried that hospitals would be overwhelmed soon.

“In the coming weeks our medical institutions will face a heavy burden,” Page said. “We need your help to make sure everyone gets the treatment that they need.”

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But the virus can lead to pneumonia and even death for some people, especially older adults and those with existing health problems.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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