ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The clock is ticking for thousands of workers to comply with St. Louis County’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
As of this week, employees are supposed to have proof of vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing in order to work at county buildings.
That’s not the case for all workers in all county buildings.
A large number of workers in the St. Louis County Courthouse actually work for the state, which has no mandate. For instance, courtroom bailiffs may work for the county and fall under the mandate, while judges and clerks may work alongside them in the same building with no mandate because they are actually employed by the state of Missouri.
“100% vaccinations would be ideal. In the meantime, some is better than none and more is better than some,” said St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell, who supports the mandate.
His office is across the street but his staff spends a lot of time in the courthouse.
They are among the close to 2,700 county workers who now have to enter the information from their vaccination cards, including vaccine lot numbers, into an online vaccination portal. Those who are not vaccinated must enter proof of weekly tests and must wear masks in the buildings. The vaccinated do not have to wear masks.
Both county and state workers question the effectiveness of an unevenly applied mandate. They point out that county workers can make up data and enter it online. And while falsifying information can lead to disciplinary action, even termination, the new mandate does rely on honesty. It seems less about enforcement and more about encouragement and promoting the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines work.
“For me, that’s enough,” Bell said. “I’ll be first in line when they tell us we can get a booster. I hope people make the best decision and not let politics creep into that decision. I think it’s sound public policy. I know we have employees who are immune-compromised. It’s important for us that we protect them as best that we can.”
“As fall approaches and cold weather brings more people indoors for longer periods of time, let’s do all we can to keep one another safe: get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.
The mandate went into effect on Oct. 1 and gives county workers five days (until Wednesday, Oct. 6) to comply with the online reporting requirement.