St. Louis City, County mask mandate facing opposition

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – Several hours after St. Louis City Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page announced details of a mask mandate, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit to end it.  

According to Schmitt’s office, the lawsuit argues the mask mandate is, “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious, unconstitutional, and unlawful.” 

Jones and Page point to rising COIVID-19 cases among young people and concerns about the fast-spreading Delta variant as a reason for the mandate. Medical facilities in other parts of Missouri have already seen an explosion of cases. St. Louis area health leaders emphasize being vaccinated is the best defense against COVID-19.   

There are some exceptions to the mask mandate, but it requires anyone 5 years and older to wear a mask if they are inside a public place. 

“Masks will allow our economy to keep going and keep people employed,” Page said.

Mayor Jones criticized Schmitt for his opposition to the mandate.

“I wish he would put more of his focus and attention on serving the people of Missouri and also holding our health and safety paramount instead of filing frivolous lawsuits that waste taxpayer dollars,” she said. 

Opposition to the mandate is also coming from some members of the St. Louis County Council. 

Councilman Tim Fitch believes the mandate was not legally issued.

“The council could vote as soon as tomorrow night to terminate it,” he said.

The St. Louis County Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday. The fate of the mask mandate is expected to be up for debate.

Councilwoman Shalonda Webb released a statement on Monday expressing support for mask-wearing but opposition to a countywide mandate. 

Today the St. Louis County Executive and the St. Louis City Mayor announced that the City and County would be making mask wearing mandatory when inside. While I have absolutely no issue with how the mayor governs the City of St. Louis, I do take issue with the County Executive bypassing the St. Louis County Council and unilaterally making decisions for the people I represent with any official that doesn’t represent them. At the very least, the County Council should have been consulted. This governing style has caused St Louis County to be mired in controversy and political drama over and over again. Sadly, there is no evidence of improvement. This needs to stop.

I believe masks work. However, this only addresses the symptom. The real issue is people not being vaccinated. Although many North County citizens have not been vaccinated, many, if not most, never stopped wearing a mask. I also believe vaccinations have proven to be effective in fighting Covid-19. Vaccinations are readily available and they are safe. Anyone that has not been vaccinated, can be vaccinated right now at this very moment. We must do a better job educating citizens on the safety of the vaccine and break through all of the conspiracy theories and misinformation, as the current rise in cases can be attributed to unvaccinated citizens.

While I believe wearing masks work, I am not in favor of the entire county being mandated to do so at this time. The Center of Disease Control has not made that recommendation and the County Executive, nor has the Interim Health Director made that case to the Council. If the County Executive wants to mandate that St. Louis County Government and anyone visiting St. Louis County Government facilities be required to wear mask, I will support that. More importantly, we need to be thinking of ways to make sure all St. Louis County employees are vaccinated.

Moreover, we have to be able to chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. COVID 19 is not the only thing that is killing people in St. Louis County. The issue of crime and violence in our community should also be a priority across all spectrums. It is the pandemic that no one is talking about, yet it impacts everyone from North County to West County.

Chaos and dysfunction in government only adds to people’s belief that their government cannot be trusted. It is my sincere hope that one day, the county executive will have enough trust in all council members to be forthright in his intentions and communicate with us in a way that is inclusive and for the betterment of the people of St. Louis County. At this time, I implore those that are unmasked and unvaccinated to please consider doing one or the other. Otherwise, this cycle of uncertainly will continue.

Councilwoman Shalonda Webb

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