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Health Officials Urge Anyone Who Attended St. Louis County Mask Meeting To Quarantine

072721_CD_County Council Mask Mandate Vote.jpg
Chad Davis
St. Louis Public Radio
Hundreds of people, mostly unmasked, gathered at a St. Louis County Council meeting last week to protest a new mask mandate. St. Louis health officials confirmed this weekend that an attendee tested positive for the coronavirus, and they worry the event may spark a wider outbreak.

St. Louis health officials say a St. Louis resident tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the St. Louis County Council meeting last week, where hundreds of mostly unmasked people gathered indoors to protest a mask mandate.

The St. Louis Department of Health is urging all attendees of the meeting, including those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, to quarantine for the next nine days. They should take a coronavirus test and monitor their symptoms, said Dr. Fred Echols, acting director.

“Please stay home,” he said. “A lot of people may consider it to be a common cold or allergies, but at this point in time until otherwise we really need people to suspect that it could be COVID-19, because we know there’s increased transmission in our communities.”

Echols told reporters on Sunday that he’s worried the hourslong indoor meeting could spark a wider outbreak of the virus.

“There were a lot of individuals who were not wearing face coverings, and so the likelihood that several individuals could have been exposed and potentially infected is something that we’re really concerned about,” he said.

Echols said there is significant transmission of the virus in the city, and the majority of cases are due to the delta variant. The more contagious variant is causing more than 90% of Missouri’s COVID cases — the highest rate in the country.

“We really want the focus to switch from just the delta variant to really stopping transmission,” Echols said. “We know that if we stop transmission we reduce the likelihood that additional variants will develop.”

Echols urges that vaccinated people also follow the quarantine recommendation for 14 days following exposure. That goes beyond the current guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which state that most fully vaccinated people with no COVID symptoms do not need to quarantine.

But Echols said new data published by the CDC showing that vaccinated people can spread the virus suggests that quarantining is the safest option for the community.

Follow Corinne on Twitter: @corinnesusan

Corinne is the economic development reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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