CLAYTON, Mo. – A St. Louis County councilwoman wants to clear up any misconception that she changed her position on mandatory mask mandates because she herself caught COVID.
Councilwoman Shalonda Webb once opposed County Executive Sam Page’s attempts to pass a mask mandate in the county. That measure failed. But she recently voted for the mask mandate, which passed. The vote came after Webb contracted COVID.
What made Webb change her mind?
“…I never was against masking. As I mentioned before, it’s always been political hurdles, policies, and procedures that got us back into a corner where we couldn’t just come out and vote, and this was a situation where we didn’t have those hurdles,” she said. “That we could go forth and make a vote. I wish it would have came six months ago.”
Did catching Sars-CoV-2 influence her decision to support a mandatory mask mandate?
“I wouldn’t say it gave me an extra push because I was always concerned about making sure we were masked,” Webb said. “It’s just been a lot of policies and procedures that probably got in the way at certain times but we needed to be masked. What gave me the greater push is how these numbers are astronomically ramping up and it doesn’t seem to be flattening anytime soon.”
Webb and Council Chairwoman Rita Days both previously opposed the mask mandates, joining with the Republicans on the county council to defeat previous attempts to pass a mandate.
But Webb and Days ran into a torrent of opposition from their north St. Louis County constituents, who back mask mandates as a way to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Rita Days said she decided to support the mandates because that’s what her community wanted. Shalonda Webb, who had been vaccinated, said getting COVID herself has been a learning experience.
“It has no respect of no person. We all need to be vaccinated and masked, not that I didn’t know that before, but after going through this bout I told this to my husband, ‘It’s like you’re afraid to be around people,’” she said. “You’re very conscious of who was I exposed to in order to see how I got it. But then I’m like, ‘Let me call everybody that I was exposed to cause I didn’t know I was contagious.’ So it’s definitely a mental hurdle in my opinion, dealing with that and then dealing with the sickness itself.”
The issue isn’t settled yet. Despite the increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has gone to court to try to overturn the county’s mask mandate.