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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has turned aside efforts by five Missouri counties to reverse his ruling stripping local health departments of the ability to impose regulations aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green on Wednesday issued his order 24 hours after the counties — Jackson, St. Louis, Jefferson, Cooper, and Livingston — filed briefs asking for the right to intervene.

Last month, Green invalidated regulations imposed by state and local health departments, siding with Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

That decision has led to school districts dropping mask mandates and counties lifting health restrictions at a time when cases and hospitalizations are rising quickly.