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ST. LOUIS– St. Louis County Executive Sam Page says the mask mandate remains in place and says the new state law about public health orders doesn’t apply here.

“If there are further restrictions surrounding business closures then that is what triggers the state law. It is very clear in the statute and I expect that a court will get to that question soon enough,” Page said.

Last night, the St. Louis County Council voted to overturn the mask mandate that went into effect Monday. The Missouri Attorney General has also sued to end the order in St. Louis County and City.

Page said there is a lot of political rhetoric around the conversation of public health orders and the proper place to adjudicate them is in court.

A new law signed by Governor Mike Parson last month limits the ability of local leaders to enact public health orders. Under the new law, officials could only issue health orders for up to 30 days. After that, the county government would have to vote on whether to keep them in place.

The new law, HB 217, states:

A political subdivision shall not issue a public health order… that directly or indirectly closes, partially closes, or places restrictions on the opening of or access to any one or more businesses, churches, schools, or other places of gathering or assembly for a period of time longer than 30 calendar days in a 180-day period.

During a morning briefing, Page explained eight other recent public health orders ended up in court and the health department prevailed.

He also said for the past 18 months, the St. Louis County Health Department has made difficult decisions and people have followed them and it is the reason we are in a better place in St. Louis County than in other places in the state and country.

Page also said the rising COVID numbers are too alarming to ignore.

“As health care professionals and as elected leaders we can’t stand idly by and let this Delta variant rack up more and more victims with each passing day,” said Page this morning.

Page said the recent mask mandate was put into place for several reasons.

  • On June 1, there were 40 cases of COVID per day, on July 27 there were 243 cases
  • On June 1, there was a positivity rate of 2.9% in St. Louis County, on July 27 it was 10.5%
  • 50% of residents in St. Louis County have initiated vaccine, when restrictions were lifted in May officials thought more people would be vaccinated

Schmitt’s lawsuit claims neither the city and county cited any kind of “statutory authority” allowing them to issue such mandates, and that the health orders are “unconstitutionally vague” and “restrict the religious freedom of St. Louisans.”