Missouri Father Breaks Coronavirus Quarantine to Take Daughter to School Dance

A father in Missouri has been criticized after he ignored instructions to self quarantine while his daughter was being tested for Coronavirus so he could attend a father-daughter dance with his other child.

The Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School announced it will be closed on Monday after learning that a St. Louis County woman infected with the coronavirus is the older sister of one of their students.

Officials learned that the student and her father broke their self quarantine to attend a father-daughter dance together, as well as a gathering beforehand at the home of another student, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In a press conference, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page confirmed that the family were told on March 5 to self quarantine at their home in Ladue while the woman was being tested for Coronavirus. It was later confirmed that the older sibling had contracted the virus.

"The way the family has reacted to this situation is really a tale of two reactions, and a study of how people should and should not react to the Coronavirus," Page said.

"The patient had conducted herself responsibly and maturely and she is to be commended for complying with the health department's instructions.

"Second, the patient's father did not act consistently with the health department's instructions. Instead, he decided to take his other daughter to a school function."

Page said the family must now remain in their home or officials could force a quarantine for all of them by law.

It is unclear how many other people attended the father-daughter dance at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. It is thought that students from John Burroughs School may have also attended the pre-dance gathering at the Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School student's home.

"The likelihood of any of the Burroughs students contracting the virus is extraordinarily low," Andy Abbott, head of John Burroughs School, wrote in an email to parents. Abbott added that the students have been asked not to attend school "until we have more information."

Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School confirmed that the school will be closed on Monday. It is unclear if they plan on closing for any other day this week.

"We are always focused on prevention of the spread of germs on campus and will be cleaning tomorrow [Monday]," a spokesperson told KMOV.

"Our full-time cleaning and maintenance staff are on campus each day, cleaning and sanitizing throughout the school day. We are cleaning continuously to prevent the spread of germs and we will make sure we are taking direction from public health officials as to any additional measures we should take."

File photo: Warning sign with text reading "Novel Coronavirus Alert." The father of Missouri's first coronavirus patient ignored quarantine instructions and went to a school dance with his other daughter. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty

The woman who tested positive for COVID-19 was the first confirmed case in Missouri. She is said to have flown from Italy into Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Monday, March 2. She then stayed with a friend before taking an Amtrak train home to St. Louis on Wednesday, March 4.

In a statement, Amtrak said: "We are working in close contact with public health and emergency management teams to have the best available information to be able to share with our customers and employees who might be affected.

"Amtrak is notifying passengers and employees who may have been on the same train, and as a precaution, we have taken the train out of service for comprehensive cleaning and disinfection, and are also working to do a thorough disinfection of the Chicago and St. Louis stations."

There have been more than 110,000 confirmed cases of Coronavirus across the world, including more than 560 in the U.S. There have been over 3,800 deaths—a majority of which have occurred in China—with over 62,000 patients recovering from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School has been contacted for further comment.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 across the U.S. as of March 6.

Coronavirus US March 9 Statista
Spread of coronavirus across the U.S. as of March 9. Statista

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Hygiene advice:

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.