St. Louis, St. Louis County To Renew Mask Mandates On Monday
St. Louis and St. Louis County will once again require all residents to wear masks in indoor public places to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
The mandate goes into effect Monday and applies to all people over the age of 5, even those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Officials will encourage everyone to wear masks outdoors, especially in group settings.
City and county officials announced Friday that the mandate is needed as coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations climb throughout the state, fueled by a more contagious variant of the virus.
“We’ve lost more than 500 St. Louisans to COVID-19, and if our region doesn’t work together to protect one another, we could see spikes that overwhelm our hospital and public health systems,” Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for St. Louis, said in a statement.
Echols said the city and county are taking the step to save lives and make sure hospitals can provide the care residents rely on, and to protect children.
The order will not apply to people who are seated in a restaurant or bar eating and drinking or to people with disabilities that prevent them from putting on or removing face coverings, officials said.
Both governments lifted the mandate in spring as vaccinations became available and case counts fell.
Earlier this week, high-ranking doctors from the region’s hospitals urged governments to reinstate mask requirements, saying not enough people have been vaccinated to prevent new outbreaks.
Infectious disease experts say COVID-19 is again a serious threat for many parts of Missouri as the virus spreads and unvaccinated people are admitted to hospitals. State officials say many of the new cases are due to the delta variant, which is easier to spread and catch.
While the coronavirus outbreaks have largely been concentrated in southern Missouri, state epidemiologists say the number of cases is now rising in other parts of the state, including the St. Louis region.
Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, said it’s important for people who have not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine to do so. But masks still are an important tool in efforts to protect people, he said.
“Vaccinations are the best way to stop the fast-spreading delta variant of COVID-19, but so far, not enough people have been vaccinated,” Khan said. “We are relentlessly committed to making vaccinations more accessible and convenient. In the meantime, we need everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear masks in crowded indoor settings. We must protect our most vulnerable residents as well as children under 12, who are not yet eligible for vaccinations.”
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