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Metro East Reports First Positive Cases Of COVID-19: 2 Women Who Traveled Internationally

St. Clair County officials on Saturday announced the Metro East's first two positive cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. They held the press conference at the county health department. 03/14/20
Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

The new coronavirus has come to the Metro East. 

St. Clair County Board Commissioner Mark Kern on Saturday issued a disaster proclamation after two women in the county tested positive for the new coronavirus.

County health officials said the two women — one in her 60s, the other in her 70s — returned from international travel about a week ago.

They tested positive this week in a hospital in St. Clair County and are currently quarantined at home according to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials said they plan to quarantine anyone who interacted with the women. 

Other details about their medical condition were not released.

Kern said signing the proclamation will help the county’s health department obtain supplies necessary to manage a disease outbreak. He urged everyone in the county to follow health guidelines issued by the CDC, even if they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19. 

“Short-term sacrifice will keep our medical infrastructure from dealing with too many cases at one time. Your sacrifice will undoubtedly help save lives,” he said.

Barb Hohlt, director of the county health department, encouraged all area residents to avoid gatherings of more than 250 and generally stay home. 

“We have tested several individuals since December in St. Clair County, and these are the first two positive cases. I would suspect these are probably not the last,” she said.

Hohlt said people who may be sick should call their doctor’s office before showing up there or at a hospital. 

Three additional cases were announced Saturday in central Illinois, as well as others near Chicago. These bring the total number of cases in Illinois to 64. As of Friday evening, Missouri had announced four known cases. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people and ordered all public and private schools in Illinois to close from March 17 to March 30.

Follow Kae on Twitter: @kmaepetrin

Reporter Andrea Henderson contributed to this story

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Kae Petrin covers public transportation and housing as a digital reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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