St. Charles County considers closing businesses again after 200% spike in cases


ST. CHARLES, MO (KMOX) - St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann is expressing concern about a big jump in coronavirus cases and is even floating the idea of a mask mandate or closing businesses again. 

He doesn't want to do it, but Ehlmann says in the wake of a more than 200% increase in new cases and persons in quarantine over the last two weeks, "Unfortunately, everything has to be on the table." 

As of mid-morning Thursday, St. Charles County reported 364 new cases over the past 14 days, a 206% increase over the 119 cases reported over the previous two weeks. The number of people in quarantine over the last two weeks is 277, a 180% increase over the 99 cases reported 14 days prior. 

Ehlmann says much of the recent spike is due to a quadrupling of cases involving 20- to 30-year-olds.

"You and I both know where that's coming from," he says, "that's coming from party time. I just wish we could do more to get the message to that particular group that yes, St. Louis City, County, St. Charles, we're now open for business but you can't behave like you did last year at this time."

In an attempt to halt the growth, the county this week began distributing 250,000 masks.

"We're sending our police officers out to businesses," Ehlmann says. "We're sending health department people out to businesses to give them the masks. We've got a whole new program on social media to impress upon people the need to do this."

Ehlmann is hoping those efforts pay off, so a mask mandate and/or business shutdown aren't necessary.

"The last thing I want to do," he says, "is have to go back to restrictions on people's freedom."

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