St. Louis County reinstating mask mandate Monday

Everyone will be required to wear a mask in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status


Photo by Erin Achenbach

County Executive Sam Page appears in a mask at the July 2020 ribbon cutting for 9 Mile Garden food truck plaza in Affton.

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

St. Louis County and St. Louis will require masks in all indoor public places regardless of vaccination status starting Monday. 

The health order requires everyone 5 and older to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status in all indoor public places and on public transportation beginning July 26. 

Masks outdoors, especially in group settings, are strongly encouraged.

The mandate comes as a result of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and the spread of the Delta variant in the region. 

“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 city, said in a statement.

County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones will hold a media briefing Monday at 9:30 a.m. to provide more details about the health order.

There are some exceptions to the mandate, including people who are seated in a restaurant or bar eating and drinking and individuals with disabilities that prevent them from putting on or removing face coverings. 

“Vaccinations are the best way to stop the fast-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19, but so far, not enough people have been vaccinated,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of the county Department of Public Health. “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.” 

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported 55 new COVID patients admitted to area hospitals Friday, while the seven-day moving average of hospitalizations increased from 272 to 281. 

According to data from the task force, staffed bed hospital capacity is at an average of 91 percent across task force hospitals, which include SSM Health, Mercy, BJC HealthCare and St. Luke’s Hospital facilities. Intensive Care Units are at 81-percent of their total staffed bed capacity. 

The reinstatement of the mandate comes just over a year from when it was first enacted by St. Louis regional leaders July 3, 2020. The mandate was in effect for 10 months before it was lifted in May when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that fully vaccinated individuals could be in indoor public spaces without a mask. 

However, earlier this week, the task force as well as the city and county, encouraged all people to begin masking up again in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status, as positivity rates began to creep back up. 

At a press conference July 21, Page said that while the suggestion was not a mandate, regional leaders were not ruling out the possibility of reinstating one.