A father and daughter in St. Louis County, Missouri, broke self-quarantine while a family member was being treated for coronavirus — because they wanted to go to a father-daughter dance.
When an older daughter who had just returned from studying abroad in Italy developed symptoms last week, the whole family was asked to self-quarantine, CBS affiliate KMOV reports. Her coronavirus test came back positive on Saturday.
However, while the test results were still pending, the father took his younger daughter to a school dinner-dance at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the daughter with coronavirus acted responsibly and maturely, but her father “did not act consistently with the health department’s instructions and instead … he decided to take his daughter to a school function,” KMOV reports.
The county learned about their attendance at the dance on Sunday, and officials told the father “to stay home or they will issue a formal quarantine that will require him and the rest of his family to stay home by the force of law,” Page said.
The daughter with coronavirus flew from Italy to Chicago last Monday, then took an Amtrak train to St. Louis on Wednesday. She called the county’s health hotline and told them her symptoms on Thursday, which is when the whole family was asked to self-quarantine as a precaution.
On Friday, she went to the hospital and health officials received a positive coronavirus diagnosis on Saturday, said Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
In a letter to parents, school officials from Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School (VDOH) said the father and daughter who went to the dance didn’t learn of the positive test results until after they were there. They left immediately after receiving the news, KMOV reports. (The older daughter who tested positive for coronavirus does not attend the school.)
Now, classes at the school are canceled for Monday and officials are urging people who attended the dance to seek appropriate medical care and to notify the school if they develop symptoms.
Officials at nearby John Burroughs School sent a letter home to parents on Sunday alerting them that the father and daughter attended an event at the home of a Burroughs family before the dance on Saturday. Several other people who were at the home on that night have been contacted, the school said, according to KMOV.
“Based on the conversations that I have had with medical experts today, the likelihood of any of the Burroughs students contracting the virus is extraordinarily low,” the Burroughs statement said. “Still, under an abundance of caution, we have asked them to stay home from school until we have more information.”
Several other schools also instructed students who had siblings at the father-daughter dance to stay at home, KMOV reports.
The hotel where the dance was held issued a statement saying it was “taking additional steps to perform enhanced cleaning of hotel areas where the event was hosted. The well-being of our guests and associates is of paramount importance.”
A fast-growing list of schools, universities and other institutions around the country have asked people to stay home as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. rose to over 500.
The new COVID-19 disease is blamed for at least 24 deaths in the U.S. as of Monday. Worldwide, more than 3,800 people have died, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Of the more than 113,000 people who have caught the virus globally, the Johns Hopkins data show that almost half — more than 62,000 — have recovered. The health risks associated with the virus rise significantly with age, and many younger, otherwise healthy people who contract it might show only mild symptoms, if any.