ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – After several tense St. Louis County Council meetings, two councilwomen are ready to take a unique approach in their fight against COVID-19.
Councilwoman Shalonda Webb sat down with FOX 2 to discuss her plan.
“I think this whole situation has set us back, not just from making progress with the vaccination, but making progress as a united front in leadership in St. Louis County leadership and governance,” she said.
Webb was just elected this past November. She said her sister questioned the timing, telling her, “Do you have to do this right now? Because what had taken place on Jan. 6 at the Capitol had just happened. I was getting sworn in like a few days later and my sister was on pins and needles and she was emotional.”
Webb’s council meetings were immediately packed and passionate. On Aug. 10, some people in the audience were met with thunderous applause as they compared mask mandates to segregation and dictatorships. Others often yelled, “We will not comply!”
Councilwoman Webb voted down the mask mandate while warning the audience, “This is real – and what you’re playing with is fire!” She continued, “I have a family too. My aunt is dead (from COVID). My sister, who’s diabetic, she’s been with pneumonia in the hospital for several weeks.”
The audience was nearly silent for the first time the entire evening as she spoke.
“We talk about making things better and without showing actions to actually do it,” she said.
Webb says she’s ready to act.
“We have to address the vaccine hesitancy,” she said. “We have to address the underlying issues that make our community so much more vulnerable than many others.”
She and Council Chairwoman Rita Days are proposing to use $50 million in Recovery Act funds for a mobile health unit in north St. Louis County, as well as a holistic wellness center that would also address mental health and initiatives to combat vaccine hesitancy.
“That chaos around this whole situation over the last four weeks, that deters people,” Webb said. “I mean, they literally are telling me, ‘Shalonda, I don’t want to deal with that drama with you. All I’m just going to wear my mask.’ And I feel like that’s even more scary because that complacency of I’m just going to put my mask on and not get vaccinated, is not going to get to the solution.”
Councilwomen Webb and Days plan to make their official announcement Tuesday afternoon, with the hope their proposal could be ready in time for that night’s meeting.