St. Louis City and County reinstate mask mandate in response to delta variant surge
New information from this morning's press conference
Last Friday, July 23, the city of St. Louis issued a press release stating that starting today, July 26, the city and county would again require masks to be worn in indoor public places and on public transportation. The mandate is in response to a surge in the delta variant of the coronavirus, which is the most infectious strain yet. The delta variant has hit Missouri especially hard in the past few weeks.
Mayor Tishaura Jones and County Executive Dr. Sam Page further explained their reasoning for the joint mandate in a press conference this morning; Jones pointed to case numbers currently being the highest they’ve been since last winter’s surge, and explained that “half of the Covid cases in the country are occurring in Texas, Florida and Missouri.”
Page added that the numbers are “too alarming to ignore.” He elaborated: “When the mayor and I stood here in May and announced that we would be relaxing some of the protocols, we did so because the case rate was headed in the right direction and the vaccine access was improving. But the delta variant has thrown us a curveball – it’s highly transmissible and it’s jeopardizing our progress.”
Page said that exceptions will be made when citizens are eating and drinking indoors: “You can’t wear a mask while eating and drinking, and we understand that,” he said.
“Restaurants and bars have done a lot to accommodate everyone in the pandemic. They’ve been great partners with us in coming up with guidelines," Page said. "As long as the case rates stay where they are, we’re going to work hard to avoid any other restrictions.”
Page did not mention anything about restricting hours or capacity for restaurants.
Jones was optimistic that the mandate wouldn’t prove detrimental to local businesses. “I don’t think this affects the reopening of schools or any businesses that are currently open,” she said.
Page acknowledged that the new mandate may feel like a punishment for those who are already vaccinated and who have been wearing masks. “For real equity in our community, we have to have some inconveniences for some people,” he said. “To have a safe and healthy region, it must include equity for all. Creating distractions for political gain is shortsighted at best and life threatening.”
At the end of his prepared speech, Page addressed the growing number of vaccinated people becoming infected with the coronavirus, adding, “Don’t think this can’t happen to you. There are plenty of people who can tell you differently.”
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