COVID exposure and racist slurs at raucous meeting under investigation

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CLAYTON, Mo. – St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page shared his reaction to last week’s county council meeting where an attendee tested positive for COVID. A St. Louis City health official wants people at that meeting to quarantine.

Protestors were outraged that the county was once again requiring people to wear masks. Many of them were not wearing masks.

“This was not St. Louis County’s finest moment. The community I love was thrust into the national spotlight for bad behavior, xenophobia, racism, and resistance to recommendations from scientists and doctors, including the CDC. As I sat at the dais with a mask on and watched the crowd, I listened to the anger, and I saw the frustration,” said Dr. Page. “It saddens me that protecting lives has become divisive. We must come together to get through this pandemic. It is the only way forward.”

There is a court case this morning on the mask mandate. Page hopes the judge sides with his order. The St. Louis County Council voted it down last week. Missouri’s Attorney General also has a lawsuit to fight the order. Page says that the mask requirement is an easy way to make a big difference in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

On Sunday acting health director Dr. Fredrick Echols says a person from the meeting began experiencing symptoms and took a COVID test on Thursday. Page says that the St. Louis Health Department handling the issue because the person testing positive is a city resident. They say that the best way to protect the health of the public was to ask everyone who was at the meeting to quarantine.

St. Louis County Health Department Deputy Director Spring Schmidt also agrees with Dr. Echols, saying until health officials can contact each person who attended the meeting to identify their risk of exposure. All of those in attendance should quarantine.

Five of seven council members were at the meeting, two attended virtually.

The St. Louis County acting health department director says he was humiliated, assaulted, and called racist slurs after he spoke to the county council Tuesday night.

The acting director of the department, Dr. Faisal Khan, made the comments in a shocking letter that he sent to the county council chairperson. He admitted he raised his middle finger to someone who he says attacked him outside the council chambers. 

Khan spoke Tuesday night before the county council voted to overturn the mask mandate. 

Page says that the investigation into Tuesday’s meeting and what happened to Dr. Khan is ongoing. St. Louis County is asking for more videos and images from the meeting to help with their investigation.

How can business owners enforce the mask mandate? Page says that there is widespread acceptance of the health order. St. Louis County will take compliance on a case-by-case basis.

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