The city closed the Wheelhouse bar and restaurant and Start Bar in the 1000 block of Spruce Street, the Marquee Restaurant & Lounge at 1911 Locust Street and Big Daddy’s on Laclede’s Landing.
The health order enacted Wednesday also altered the terms of future potential shutdowns, including allowing violating businesses to maintain inventory, provide security, pay employees and do remote work that doesn’t pose health risks.
Owners of the Wheelhouse and the adjacent Start Bar sued the city July 31, claiming their closure was unconstitutional and they were not given proper legal notice. St. Louis Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hogan rejected their request for a temporary restraining order, ruling that the city’s orders are legal.
In addition to the new orders, Krewson sent a request to the city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment to approve an additional $2 million in federal relief funding for the city’s mortgage and rent assistance program Wednesday. The money would be added to $5.4 million in federal relief already allocated to the program in the city.
More than 3,500 applicants have applied so for funds through the program to help with up to $3,500 in housing payments, according to the mayor’s office.
In the St. Louis area Wednesday, hospital admissions for COVID-19 continued on a downward trend, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.
The seven-day average of new COVID-19 hospital admissions at the region’s major hospital systems — BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital — was at 39, down from 44 on Aug. 5.
“It’s a promising trend,” task force commander Dr. Alex Garza said Wednesday. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”
Statewide on Wednesday, Missouri reported 1,595 new COVID-19 cases and 11 additional deaths. This brings the state’s total to 62,530 cases and 1,323 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Mental health workers at risk
One point of concern for Missouri is the rising number of coronavirus cases among workers at mental health facilities.
By mid-June, 105 employees at the Missouri Department of Mental Health had tested positive for the coronavirus. On Wednesday, the agency said that number has grown to 202.
The department operates facilities across the state to care for people with psychiatric problems and developmental disabilities.
St. Louis-area facilities are among the hotspots, with 41 workers at the St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center testing positive, up from 20 in mid-June.
The South County Habilitation Center reported 34 workers had tested positive, up from 28 in mid-June, and the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center had 31 cases, up from 22 in mid-June.
In April, labor union leaders who represent state workers said Gov. Mike Parson is not doing enough to protect employees during the pandemic.
From a lack of personal protective equipment for prison workers to insufficient technical support for office employees who are working from home, union officials said the situation was putting front-line staffers in danger.
Debra Walker, an assistant director at the Department of Mental Health, said the agency continues to take steps to try to bring the numbers down.
Workers wear masks and other protective gear; in-person visits by family and guardians have been canceled.
Testing has also ramped up.
But the high number of employees testing positive has resulted in a scramble to ensure adequate staffing.
Supervisors are stepping into other roles when staffing problems arise, and training has increased to allow people to work in multiple areas.
The adjustments come at a time when the state has doled out more than $7.6 million in hazard pay to frontline workers in the facilities as an incentive to continue coming to work during the pandemic.
Walker said it is notable that deaths among staff and residents have remained stable since June. Through Wednesday, two workers and four patients with COVID-19 have died.
Updated at 7 p.m. Wednesday with more information.