CLAYTON, Mo. – St. Louis County Executive Sam Page used this morning’s press conference to address new challenges to combating the COVID-19 pandemic. He says that the threat of the new omicron variant means that relaxing health guidelines will probably not be happening soon.
Page says that last week’s court ruling is also making the fight more difficult. He also called out Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt for his involvement in the case.
“For over a year, but notably before he was running for United States Senate, the Attorney General was just fine with our mask mandate. In fact, he hardly said a word about it. He was so silent about mandates that one may say he supported masks. That is before he was against them. The COVID deniers are proud that they have set up legal obstacles to make it hard to implement strong COVID policies,” said Page.
A Missouri judge ruled last week that local health orders imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state are illegal and should be lifted. Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled that orders such as quarantines and business closures violate the Missouri Constitution’s separation of powers clause affecting the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
“We’re aware of the Court’s ruling and are prepared to enforce compliance with the court’s order across the state,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt previously stated.
“The latest challenge came last week when an elected Republican judge. A politician that must run for reelection in a rural Trump-loving county entered a ruling about masks in a friendly-fire lawsuit between radical anti-maskers and the attorney general. Even though St. Louis County was never a party in the case, or even asked to provide its position, the judge declared all of our public health orders invalid. How a judge can do that will be for the lawyers and the bar to figure out. But we know it is a dangerous ruling. We know it undermines our strong COVID policies and we are starting to understand how it may impact our other health policies,” said Page.
Page says that wearing a mask is one of the best ways to combat the spread of the virus. The issue will go before the county council on Tuesday. He believes that the council will approve a strong mask policy then.
“Apparently, in that judge’s view of the world, our department of public health should not be allowed to investigate dog bites, close a restaurant to prevent a hepatitis A outbreak, control the spread of tuberculosis, or limit the spread of sexually transmitted infections. This kind of government-free world may be the kind of world that COVID deniers want to impose on us but it is not the kind of world that St. Louis County wants to live in. Hopefully, the courts will sort this nonsense out but until they do we must confront this new obstacle like we have all others,” said Page.
Page has previously suggested that the county mask ordinance stays in effect until after January 1, 2022. He said he will review the ruling with the county counselor and their attorneys.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones used similar language when referring to Missouri State Attorney General Eric Schmitt last week. She was addressing a deal from the state to forgive a $5.5 million dollar debt. The attorney general then issued a statement criticizing the mayor’s record on public safety.