Battle over St. Louis County mask mandate continues today

Missouri

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The two sides of an on-again-off-again St. Louis County mask mandate are supposed to report back to a county court Judge Wednesday morning with a compromise.

The judge ordered Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page to try to work together. Both issued statements saying they would discuss the idea.

Circuit Judge Ellen “Nellie” Ribaudo said it was “extremely important for those who represent the state to express to their citizens who don’t believe that they need to wear masks, that this is a real and present danger.”

Ribaudo also said it’s important for St. Louis County officials to sit down and say “well, if we’re not really going to enforce a mask mandate, is there a way of doing a very strong recommendation that would be able to resolve and hopefully encourage and educate the people as to the genuine risks that they face, as opposed to turning this into a political fight, or a fight about laws which most of the people don’t really understand.”

The delayed ruling on a temporary injunction invalidating the county’s mask mandate came at the end of Tuesday’s court hearing.

Ribaudo gave the lawyers until 11 a.m. Wednesday morning to offer solutions. Attorneys for the two sides would be meeting Tuesday, not Page and Schmitt, themselves, sources said. 

There was a St. Louis County Council meeting Tuesday night. There, Republican St. Louis County Councilmember Mark Harder said, “I don’t think it’s a ‘we win – we lose’ situation. If she thinks it could be settled that way, maybe it can be. We’ve got to get this issue settled.”

Harder endorses wearing masks to fight the spread of COVID-19 and the surge of the Delta variant, but he opposes a mask mandate.   

Page may address Tuesday night’s meeting during his COVID briefing at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. He will be joined by Spring Schmidt, the Deputy Director of the St. Louis County Health Department. FOX 2 will carry the press briefing on-air as well as online.

“We’ve been trying to do all along,” Democrat St. Louis County Council Chairwoman Rita Days said. “This is nothing new and it had to take a judge to say, ‘sit down at the table and work this out.’ This is what we knew from the beginning.”

Days also supports wearing masks, but not Page’s mandate.

“I’m vaccinated. I wear masks in a crowd and enclosed places … but that’s my choice,” Harder said.

The resolution supporting the mask mandate failed 5-2 at Tuesday night’s meeting.

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