St. Louis orders mask mandate for residents regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status

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The city and county of St. Louis are requiring nearly all residents — regardless of vaccination status — to go back to wearing face coverings in indoor public spaces and on public transit as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to surge through Missouri.

City and county leaders announced the measure Friday. The decision resembles one similar to the early days of the pandemic outbreak as the state remains a virus hot spot amid lagging vaccination rates.

It also marks the largest metropolitan center in the state to make such a move amid growing fears from health experts about the new wave of infections.

Dr. Faisal Khan, the county’s acting public health director, said the city’s latest mask order is necessary to protect its most vulnerable residents and the young children ineligible to receive the vaccine.

“Vaccinations are the best way to stop the fast-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19, but so far, not enough people have been vaccinated,” Khan said in a statement Friday. “We are relentlessly committed to making vaccinations more accessible and convenient.”

Meanwhile, health officials around the Kansas City area have suggested a mask mandate may be a necessary course to stem the tide of COVID-19 cases locally.

Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said Thursday that hospitals across the metro are already confronted with too many patients and too few beds.

“We are past the tipping point. We are in trouble,” Stites said.

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