ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The delta variant of COVID-19 is as transmissible among children as it is for adults, unlike the 2020 “alpha” variant of the virus, according to a St. Louis County health official.
Spring Schmidt, the deputy director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, said the county is now averaging, as of Wednesday, approximately 300 COVID cases per day.
Unfortunately, due to the low vaccination rate in the county and surrounding areas, health officials say masking is necessary for residents regardless of their vaccination status.
“It isn’t just enough to be vaccinated in the current level of community transmission,” Schmidt said.
A temporary restraining order was issued over the mask mandate on Tuesday. That comes following a lawsuit by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
Officials say 52.5% of St. Louis County residents have initiated the vaccination process. That is less than the 70% nationwide.
There are also roughly 500,000 county residents who are unvaccinated.
In June, the county was averaging about 1,100 vaccines administered per day, Spring Schmidt said. As of July 27, that number jumped to more than 1,760 vaccinations per day.
As of July 29, 38.7% of teenagers in St. Louis County have received at least one dose, compared to 32% about a month ago. While there have been gains, the pace is still slow.
The county health department is advising parents of children over 12 to speak with their pediatrician about vaccination. Children under 12 are not currently eligible for vaccination.
Schmidt said she understands the public—particularly the vaccinated populace—is frustrated with the mask recommendation but the COVID threat is an undeniable reality. She stressed vaccinated people who do catch COVID have significantly fewer complications, like hospitalization or death.