St. Charles County tells residents to stay at home, except for activities ‘they feel are essential’

Lindenwood+custodian+Jennifer+Swanson+works+to+sanitize+the+Library+and+Academic+Resources+Center+over+spring+break+to+fight+the+coronavirus.++

Jessica Spivey

Lindenwood custodian Jennifer Swanson works to sanitize the Library and Academic Resources Center over spring break to fight the coronavirus.

Alexis Montgomery, Culture Editor

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, St. Charles County ordered residents on Monday to stay home, “except to engage in activities they deem necessary to their physical, mental or spiritual well-being, or for employment.”

St. Charles County also released a press release stating the stay home order would go into effect on Tuesday.

St. Louis City and County announced a mandatory 30-day lockdown on Saturday, from which “essential businesses” are exempted.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann responded with a statement saying, “I do not believe we are in a situation where government should be deciding which businesses must close and which may stay open.”

“We will continue to educate our residents that they should stay home except to go to work and procure the services they feel are essential,” he said. “If businesses and residents work together to do what is right at this critical time, we will be doing everything we need to do right now to slow the spread of this disease.”

On Saturday, Lindenwood announced that the campus would shut down on Monday and employees would work from home.

Lindenwood’s communications director, Chris Duggan, said Lindenwood made the decision to reduce the impact of the pandemic.

“Lindenwood is unique among business entities in St. Charles County with its dense on-campus population of students, and the university, in consultation with public health officials, determined the responsible course of action to limit the spread of COVID-19 was to close the campus to students and employees,” he said.

Duggan said many Lindenwood employees live in St. Louis City or County, even though St. Charles residents were not yet required to stay at home.  

Duggan also said most other colleges in the U.S. have made the same decision.

The stay-at-home orders in St. Louis City and County were issued Saturday and took effect Monday.

St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson tweeted that citizens are still allowed to do the following: “Grocery store/pharmacy/essential needs. Carry out at bars & restaurants. Go to work for most businesses. Take a walk, exercise outside. Doctor appointments & other essential activities.”

Designated “essential businesses” are exempt from the orders, but citizens can be charged with a misdemeanor if they violate them.

Louis Hansen, a Lindenwood student and St. Charles resident, said he believes although the county is giving people permission to do what they feel is essential, the quarantine is necessary.

Hansen also believes the quarantine is also providing time to be creative.

“As an artist, this quarantine time has given me more time to explore and create in new ways and spaces,” he said.

Last week, St. Charles County prohibited indoor dining in restaurants and banned gatherings of more than 10 people.   

There are now six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saint Charles County, according to the county Department of Public Health.  In Missouri as a whole, over 180 people have tested positive as of Monday.  

For other information on symptoms of the disease, how to prepare, and for new updates about COVID-19 in Saint Charles County, go to https://www.sccmo.org/2105/COVID-19/COVID 

This is a breaking news story and it will be updated with more information.  

Updated March 26, 2020 with resident comment and a press release.