ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County COVID-19 infection is trending down, indicating a possible future change in policy. The county could stop requiring masks in public places by 2022. That was the word from county executive Dr. Sam Page Monday.
“If the trend would continue, and if the vaccination rate among five-11-year-olds goes as hoped, it’s certainly possible we could be without a mask mandate by the end of the year,” Page said.
Page outlined the metrics county health officials will be monitoring between now and then. At stlcorona.com, on the COVID-19 data and reports link, the testing positivity rate Monday was listed as 5.9%. The seven-day case rate was 93.92 per 100,000 individuals. Page said he wants the positivity rate below 5%, and the cases per 100,000 in seven-day average below 80.
“There’s more work to be done in 12-and-up and adults, for sure,” said Page. “The biggest opportunity is with kids 5 to 11, because that group is not vaccinated, yet.”
The existing mandate requires people 5 years old and older to wear face coverings indoors in public buildings and public transportation in the county. It also recommends use of face coverings in crowded outdoor settings.
There is no criminal penalty or enforcement procedure in the health order.
St. Louis County residents reacted to the possibility of being mask-less, once again.
“If the majority of people are vaccinated, fine," said resident Normal Miller. "But if I’m in a room full of people that aren’t vaccinated, I still wear my mask.”
“I think it should be up to the individual themselves,” said Kacie Reckart.
Mark Sommer said, “I think it’s a good idea. As long as we’re going down on the numbers, I think he’s doing a good job.”
Don Hughs said, “I think it’s a good deal if the numbers keep going down, to do away with the masks.”
Current trends are encouraging.
“Our daily case averages continue to trend down,” said Page. “The positivity rate is dropping. With each passing day, more people are getting vaccinated. In St. Louis County 54 percent of our residents are fully vaccinated.”
A Page spokesperson said the St. Louis County mask mandate remains in effect unless the council takes specific action to rescind it.
"If the council wants to vote to eliminate the mask mandate, they can," said Doug Moore, Cheif Communications Officer with St. Louis County. "Otherwise, it continues until the director of public health determines it is no longer needed."