St. Louis County, MO (March 6, 2020) – St. Louis County has expanded its ongoing preparation for possible local COVID-19 cases by partially activating its Emergency Operations Center.
The gradual activation includes bringing together at the county’s Emergency Operation Center (EOC) the Health Department, Office of Emergency Management, public information officers, local Fire/EMS, and the St. Louis Medical Operations Center. Other departments could become involved depending on how the novel coronavirus impacts St. Louis County.
The Medical Operations Center includes communications with representatives from all of our major medical centers who will have someone assigned to the EOC to provide real time information about any patients under observation and how care is being coordinated throughout the region.
The EOC houses the county’s Office of Emergency Management, which is in place for all types and levels of emergencies. From flooding and tornados to the H1N1 flu virus in 2009 to today’s novel coronavirus.
“We must be prepared and educated and ready to respond at a moment’s notice,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, a medical doctor. “But we must always keep things in perspective. This is not a reason to panic. We are focusing our efforts on preparedness. We have the infrastructure in place, and this is an opportunity to make sure we can collaborate in real time and have the right people at the table.”
There are currently no cases of COVID-19 in St. Louis County, or in the state of Missouri.
“But we know that could change, so that’s why we are here. Preparing. Talking. Engaging with our partners in the region,” County Executive Page said.
In addition to the partial activation at the EOC, the county’s Department of Public Health is putting together a community engagement program to get more resources to our residents. DPH is working with community groups and will pull in employees from other departments to help inform residents of the best ways to avoid getting sick and basic information about the virus.
“There is great interest from groups across the region looking for experts from the county to speak with them about COVID-19,” said Spring Schmidt, co-health director for St. Louis County. “The Health Department is tracking those requests and trying to fulfill as many of them as possible. It’s important that the public be informed, and we are doing all we can to help.”
The county has set up a website, stlcorona.com to provide information on the virus and how to stay well. The Health Department also is staffing a hotline to answer questions about this coronavirus or COVID-19. That number is 314-615-2660, operating from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Language assistance is available.