Global pandemic hits home as local leaders encourage social distancing and local businesses face closure 

By Brett Auten

It is at the forefront of everyone’s mind and it is impacting all walks of life.

The coronavirus (COVID-19), the pandemic that is infecting and in killing individuals around the world at an astonishing rate, has everyone reexamining all aspects of life.

In St. Charles County, what were bustling streets and crowded parking lots are now hushed as government officials everywhere are pleading to all citizens to stay inside when possible.

“It is like humanity has come to a standstill,” Dustin English, a St. Charles County native and business owner, said.

Over the weekend in St. Louis City and County officials reported that they will be forcing “non-essential” businesses to close.  As of Monday morning, St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann wasn’t willing to go that far.

“I do not believe we are in a situation where government should be deciding which businesses must close and which may stay open,” Ehlmann, on the county’s website, said. “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. 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.”

As of Saturday, a third positive COVID-19 case was reported in St. Charles County. The resident is a male in his 20s who traveled to Spain and he has been quarantined since his return. Public Health epidemiologists have begun contact investigations and notifications regarding this case.

“I cannot express strongly enough how important social distancing is,” St. Charles County Director of Public Health Demetrius Cianci-Chapman, said “This case demonstrates how just a brief encounter with someone can cause the spread of this disease. It is imperative that every single person takes this seriously. Adhering to precautions set by the CDC and state and local health departments regarding hand washing and social distancing is crucial.”

English is the owner of Field Box St. Charles and Field Box St. Peters (two popular sports bars) and co-owner of Chicken’s Place, an up-and-coming restaurant located in Old Town. Ehlmann signed an Executive Order that went into effect last Friday that prohibits all restaurants and bars in the county from providing on-premises consumption of food or beverages effective at 12:01 a.m., Friday, March 20.

“Each business and business owner’s situation is different, but for some, they will be freaking out week one, day one,” English said. “I mean, I have a couple of thousand beers that have a shelf life. Same with food. It’s frustrating because we don’t know how long it will be. We have no timeframe. And as far as our employees, are they going to be here when we get back?”

English encourages everyone to dine, when they can, either curbside or delivery from your local establishments to help keep some sort of semblance afloat.

Cianci-Chapman also said that St. Charles County Public Health and hospital official’s stress that residents should not panic and not go to hospital emergency rooms. If you have symptoms, you should either call the county’s hotline number or call your health care provider. A screening call is necessary to start the testing process. Residents who show symptoms or have questions should call the St. Charles County Department of Public Health COVID-19 Information Hotline at 636-949-1899, which operates daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information and precautions for COVID-19, as well as updates, when available, visit sccmo.org/COVID

CULINE: Photos by Brett Auten Residents throughout St. Charles County are looking at empty shelves, like this one in a St. Peters’ Schnucks, for select items, mostly cleaning products like sanitizer and tissue paper. The coronavirus (COVID-19) has put a stranglehold on St. Charles County as residents and businesses look at an imminent shut down for some weeks.