Everyone now required to wear masks indoors and outside in St. Louis County, city

The+Urban+League+of+Metropolitan+Saint+Louis+distributed+food+and+other+items+to+2%2C500+families+Saturday%2C+May+2%2C+at+the+former+Jamestown+Mall%2C+assisted+by+County+Executive+Sam+Page+in+a+mask%2C+left.+

The Urban League of Metropolitan Saint Louis distributed food and other items to 2,500 families Saturday, May 2, at the former Jamestown Mall, assisted by County Executive Sam Page in a mask, left.

St. Louis County and St. Louis City will require everyone to wear a mask or face covering at all times indoors and outside when social distancing is not possible, effective 7 a.m. Friday, July 3. 

As cases of the coronavirus increase in the South, West and elsewhere in Missouri, St. Louis cases have remained stable rather than the downward trend that public-health officials would prefer to see. 

The move follows the decision earlier this week by Jackson County, which includes Kansas City, to require masks indoors and outdoors. 

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson made the joint announcement from the county, city and the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force made up of local hospitals. 

The requirement applies to everyone over the age of 9. There will  be “limited exceptions” to the order for certain circumstances and health conditions, officials said. 

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control, public-health officials and the pandemic task force, COVID-19 spreads mainly through aerosols and droplets among people who are in close contact with one another — about 6 feet. The use of face masks or coverings is a scientifically proven, safe and simple way to decrease the risk of transmitting coronavirus, particularly in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain. “Using this simple tool to slow the spread of the virus in St.  Louis will help allow businesses and the economy to stay open while protecting the population,” the city said in the announcement.

“Our goal today –- as  it has been all along –- is to adopt science-based practices and follow the advice of our public-health experts to slow the spread of the virus,” St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said in the news release. “We want businesses and restaurants to stay open. We want to continue to reopen and return to more normal activities, but we cannot do that unless everyone follows the same guidelines and proven practices to protect themselves and others from spreading COVID-19.”

“People and businesses across the St. Louis region have responded so well to the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Making face masks or coverings mandatory is an important step to ensure we do not go backwards as a region in the fight against this virus,” said Krewson in the release. “This is an effective and proven way to slow the spread in our community, while allowing businesses to remain open and making sure people can enjoy their summers in a safe and responsible way.”

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, which includes the St. Louis metropolitan area’s largest health care systems working together to coordinate capacity, staffing, supplies and other issues to care for  patients with COVID-19, strongly supported this mandate to help stop the spread and prevent infections.

“The evidence is clear that wearing a face mask or covering can decrease the transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and chief medical officer at SSM Health. “Success in keeping the transmission rate as low as possible and ensuring our area hospitals can safely and effectively treat all patients, including COVID-19 patients, requires the community’s help to prevent spread of the virus. However, as the science has shown, we only realize the benefit of wearing masks or coverings if everyone participates. We need everyone. It’s that simple.”