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HomeGeneralMissouri Reverses Mask Mandates Hours After Enforcement

Missouri Reverses Mask Mandates Hours After Enforcement

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A Doctor Wearing a Mask
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The mask mandate for city workers in St. Louis, Missouri, was rescinded just hours after its announcement. On Thursday, the St. Louis Department of Health informed city employees that they would be required to wear masks indoors starting Friday.

The decision was attributed to a surge in respiratory illnesses in the region, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Several medical institutions in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, D.C., reinstated rules mandating face masks for specific individuals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a national increase of 12.7 percent in positive cases in the week ending on December 23 compared to the preceding week.

In a letter to employees on Thursday, the St. Louis health department emphasized the need to take action to slow the transmission of winter viruses. The department stated that with the rapid increase in the activity of these viruses, measures were necessary to prevent strain on hospital systems, as reported by the newspaper.

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ALSO READ: U.S. Hospitals Reinstate COVID-19 Mask Mandates

The health department reversed its stance on the mandate on Friday afternoon. City spokesman Nick Dunne announced that it now “strongly recommends” that employees wear masks indoors, indicating a change from the initially mandated requirement.

Nick Dunne did not provide specific details on what prompted the change. However, the office of Missouri Governor Mike Parson claimed credit for the reversal. Newsweek reached out to Dunne via email on Monday for further comment.

Johnathan Shiflett, a spokesperson for Governor Mike Parson, stated that the governor, who has been opposed to mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic, had recently expressed on the radio that he “would step in and oppose new mask mandates.”

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Shiflett stated, “Governor Parson kept his word.” He further explained that a conversation took place with the St. Louis Mayor’s Office, leading to the issuance of a new policy that reverses the earlier mask mandate.

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The mask mandate swiftly drew criticism from conservatives. Senator Eric Schmitt, a Republican, expressed his opposition, stating, “Individuals have a right to make their own decisions when it comes to wearing masks – I fought these ridiculous mandates when I was Missouri’s Attorney General, and I will continue to do everything in my power to fight COVID tyranny.”

In addition to the mandate for city workers, the city’s health department released a press release on Thursday encouraging the general public to wear masks indoors in public spaces and crowded environments. The release cited the region’s increase in COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections.

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ALSO READ: Philadelphia Measles Outbreak Has Providers on Alert as Infected Residents Flout Quarantine Rules

On Friday, the health department issued an update to the release in an attempt to provide clarity on the previously shared information. It highlighted a 38 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations within the St. Louis Health Service Area between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Influenza cases rose by 455 percent, and RSV infections increased by 34 percent.

The St. Louis health department noted that the city’s hospitalization rate, standing at 15.5 cases per 100,000 residents, places it in the Centers for Disease Control’s medium-risk category. The CDC recommends indoor masking for those in the high-risk category.

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