By Isabel Van Brugen
A mask mandate in Missouri’s St. Louis County has been overturned just one day after it went into effect.
A county council meeting voted 5-2 on Tuesday evening to repeal the mandate that would have required masks to be worn in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.
“Too many American men and women have given the last full measure of devotion for us to be cavalier with the very liberty they fought and died to provide,” said Councilman Ernie Trakas, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I will not abide any measures that seek to compromise or erode our liberty and freedom.”
The mandate was announced by county executive Sam Page and St. Louis mayor Tishaura Jones amid a surge in cases of the highly contagious Delta COVID-19 variant. The strain was first identified in India late last year and currently makes up approximately 83 percent of all new sequenced cases in the United States, according to federal officials.
Before the vote took place, several council members voiced opposition to the requirement, saying that it violates a recently passed state law that requires a governing body such as a county council to provide input.
“Why weren’t we brought into the loop, why didn’t we have a chance to have input on this? I represent 142,000 people, the vast majority do not want masks. the vast majority. I represent them and I should be able to have a voice for them,” Councilman Tim Fitch told KMOV4 prior to the meeting.
A spokesman for the county executive said that he will respond to the vote at a press briefing on Wednesday.
The mask mandate is still in effect in St. Louis City.
Before the vote took place, three municipalities within the county, Chesterfield, Wildwood, and Eureka, announced that they would not be using law enforcement to enforce the mandate.
It comes as the CDC updated its guidance to say that fully vaccinated individuals in areas with “substantial and high transmission” of COVID-19 should wear masks indoors in some areas, including schools, citing new research into outbreaks from several states and other countries.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Tuesday that research indicates that “on rare occasions some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others.”
Fully vaccinated individuals who contract the Delta variant have the same viral load as people who are unvaccinated, Walensky said, noting that the variant can be transmitted by vaccinated people.
“This new science is worrisome and warrants an update to our recommendations,” Walensky said.
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