(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) City leaders report Buchanan County's daily rise in coronavirus cases are trending downward.
Mayor Bill McMurray and fellow St. Joseph city leaders met together Thursday night during their virtual town hall meeting to discuss the city's COVID-19 numbers and officials said St. Joseph's numbers appear to be going down.
“The trend line is slightly negative which means we have a downward trajectory of cases and has been this way now for a week or two,” said St. Joseph mayor, Bill McMurray.
COVID-19 related hospitalizations at Mosaic Life Care are also appearing to be trending downward.
“Maybe eight people in the hospital today, compared to about a week ago we had 19,” said McMurray.
The St. Joseph mayor credits the downward slope to residents taking personal responsibility during the pandemic.
“People who wear a mask so they’re not infecting others, people who wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizer and try to stay six feet away from people. All of these things are working,” said McMurray.
One local restaurant strictly following these safety measures is La Mesa.
Co-owner, David Torres said informing his customers about the new changes and procedures was tough in the beginning, but now customers understand the necessary safety measures.
The Mexican restaurant said they've implemented several different safety procedures to keep their customers and staff safe.
“We have sanitizer whenever they come in, whenever they’re leaving. We have the doors open. Telling the customer don’t touch the doors. This is something new,” said La Mesa co-owner, David Torres.
Torres said parties are separated, "we close the no window tables to make six foot for the social distance," and bar seating is also limited.
“At the bar, we used to have 10 bar stools, but right now we only have five,” said Torres.
After reclosing their doors one week after the St. Joseph city ban was lifted due to COVID-19 concerns, restaurant owners said these updated risk measures are the new normal.
“I believe this is the new life. Customers understand and the employees understand. We don’t have other choices if we want to handle this problem,” said Torres.
Phase one of the citywide order expires on June 15th, causing city leaders to debate their next move.
“Are we gonna loosen some of the restrictions because we can see a downward trajectory? The last thing we wanna do is loosen up too much and have a spike in cases, so that’s the dilemma that we’re gonna have to wrestle with next Thursday,” said McMurray.
Mayor McMurray said St. Joseph plans to do more citywide testing.
St. Joseph has applied for a portion of the $10 million COVID-19 relief funding given to Missouri and dispersed throughout the counties.
The mayor expects to receive answers back from the Buchanan County commissioner's office this next week on possible funding approval for additional testing.