CITY HALL – The city appears to be winning its first bout with the coronavirus, if by slim margins. St. Louis had tallied 1,917 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Friday afternoon, with 118 deaths, Mayor Lyda Krewson reported via her Facebook press conference that afternoon. The numbers of hospitalizations, ICU patients and people on ventilators has been dropping, although not consistently day to day.
“So far, things are looking pretty good,” she said, as the region gradually reopens for business.
But on Saturday, Missouri reported another 33 COVID-19-related deaths – up 4.5 percent in a single day, increasing the state’s total for the coronavirus pandemic to 771.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services also said the number of coronavirus cases rose by 1.3 percent, up 167 cases to 12,962, as of Saturday. The department said 718 people infected with the novel coronavirus had been hospitalized.
The majority of the state’s deaths have been in the St. Louis area, with St. Louis County and the city together accounting for 563 COVID-19-related deaths, or 73 percent. People age 70 or older account for three-quarters of all deaths, or 578 total.
Meanwhile, Lake of the Ozarks bars and restaurants were still bringing in customers, but the crowds were subdued compared with those during the previous Memorial Day holiday weekend.
The close-quarters revelry received national attention. So far, one Boone County resident who spent 12 hours at two venues there has tested positive for coronavirus.
Krewson told Facebook listeners that she and a team of advisors had drafted a plan to tackle the problems caused by the virus, using a total of about $64 million in various grants and funds. She will present the plan to the Board of Aldermen for approval, with the understanding that aldermen will have their own ideas.
“We know that there is a lot of suffering out there,” she said. “And we also know that there is more to come.”
She pointed out that the federal coronavirus unemployment supplements will run out, as will regular unemployment payments; and that many area residents who were barely managing before the virus struck will be in even more desperate circumstances.
“We have made a commitment to use these federal funds in three categories: health, of course; humanitarian ..; and business.”
The health department will get funds to hire more staff and boost its technology, for such services as contact tracing and telehealth.
Rental and mortgage assistance, utility aid and housing for the homeless will help keep roofs over people’s heads.
And a new program for small businesses will focus on companies with fewer than 25 employees, with an emphasis on the smallest businesses. Krewson said more information on this program and how to apply for it would be posted Wednesday, June 3, on the city’s website, stlouis-mo.gov.
In the segment of the mayor’s press conference in which she takes questions from listeners, a woman asked what citizens can do to help the city. Are there good volunteer opportunities?
The question pleased Krewson. “That’s a great question,” she said. Her mind went to the area’s nonprofits, doing good every day but struggling right now because many of their regular volunteers are unable to participate. Anyone who is older or has underlying health conditions is advised to stay home, and their help is sorely missed. So Krewson suggested that the rest of us pitch in.
“Think about what is it that you’re interested in,” she recommended, “and reach out to those not-for-profits. I know every single one of them needs volunteers.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.