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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The mask mandate has been renewed in the City of St. Louis. The Board of Aldermen unanimously passed the measure to require anyone age five or older to wear a mask in public places.

Health orders must be renewed every 30 days according to a new Missouri law. St. Louis is one of the few remaining municipalities in Missouri with a mask mandate.

A winter COVID surge is expected and the city is currently seeing the highest amount of virus transmission since last January. In early 2021 vaccines were only available to vulnerable populations.

The vaccination rate for Missouri is at around 60 percent. Now, unvaccinated people are more likely to get COVID because the new varients are more contagious.

“As a region, we’re really moving in the wrong direction. The virus is winning this round because of that highly contagious Delta variant,” said Dr. Alex Garza during the Pandemic Task Force briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has warned public health departments and school districts that they need to stop enforcing mask mandates after a decision by Missouri’s Cole County Circuit Court. It says mask mandates, quarantines, and other public health orders are illegal.

The omicron variant was detected in St. Louis earlier this month. It appears to be highly contagious but causes less severe disease than previous versions of the coronavirus. The Pfizer vaccine seems to offer less defense against infection but still good protection from hospitalization.