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It will take time for county to return to ‘normal’

Meeting at the St. Peters Justice Center, the St. Charles County Council gathered on Monday, May 11 for its first open meeting since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. 

The council assembled at the alternate location in order to accommodate the state’s social distancing requirements. Those who attended the meeting were required to complete a health screening upon admission, wear a cloth face covering and to abide county and state recommended guidelines. The Justice Center will be the site of council and Planning & Zoning Commission meetings for the remainder of May, and all of June.

Specifically, those meetings* will take place on:

  • 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 27: County Council
  • 7 p.m., Monday, June 8: County Council
  • 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 17: Planning & Zoning
  • 7 p.m., Monday, June 29: County Council
MOD in St. Charles and O’Fallon opened to customers on May 4, after being closed during due to concern over COVID-19. They are among the 40-50% of businesses the county executive said have reopened in St. Charles County since May 4.

After the invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance and the public comments, County Executive Steve Ehlmann gave a report on the current state of the county. He said at least 40% of county businesses have reopened since May 4 and that some sources have estimated that number at over 50%. Ehlmann said this gradual reopening of the county is preferable to a massive reopening, and that it will take time before the public is ready to move slowly toward “getting back to normal.”

He said deaths in nursing homes remain the county’s most pressing problem related to COVID-19. He then ceded the floor to Demetrius Cianci-Chapman, director of the St. Charles County Health Department. 

Cianci-Chapman explained the particulars and vagaries of the state rules governing COVID-19 testing, intimating that the public may not know as much about the exactitudes of these policies as is generally believed. This led to a fairly spirited exchange with council member Joe Cronin [District 1], who questioned the state procedures and insisted that St. Charles County is being shorted in terms of testing. 

Cronin said that the county is the third most populous in Missouri, but that access to testing is not readily available within it. As Cronin put it, in order to get a coronavirus test in St. Charles County, “you have to be pretty darn sick.”  He then stated that a number of his constituents feared they may have suffered infection at the Wentzville Post Office, but have not been able to secure testing. 

Cronin said leaders from President Donald Trump on down the line have all commented on the importance of testing, and he alleged that “bureaucratic bottlenecks, if not bureaucratic bungling” was preventing testing within the county.

Cianci-Chapman said there was no reason to believe that state authorities have attempted to shortchange the county in this instance. 

Cronin stood his ground, defending the statistics he used in his accusations and insisting that more testing is necessary. He finished by saying that the state health department has been guilty of “an epic fail” in this matter. 

* Some meeting times or dates could change. Residents who want to attend are advised to check sccmo.org/AgendaCenter/SCCMO-County-Council-1 and sccmo.org/AgendaCenter/SCCMO-Planning-Zoning-Commission-11 for updates.

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