ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — While St. Louis area leaders announced people will soon be required to wear face masks in public, a St. Charles County leader is explaining why face masks are not being mandated there.
St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann said since the CDC began recommending usage of face masks, the county’s department of public health has encouraged the use of them.
“When it comes to masks, I have faith that the citizens of St. Charles County will do the right thing without government coercion,” Ehlmann said when learning that St. Louis City and St. Louis County are mandating the use of masks. Ehlmann added, “I will continue to do everything I can to remind our citizens that, along with the freedom to decide, they have a responsibility to protect the health of others by wearing a mask.”
The approach to face masks is similar to the county’s decision on closure of nonessential businesses.
“When other jurisdictions mandated the closure of businesses they deemed “nonessential,” Ehlmann chose to order residents to frequent only businesses they deemed essential. After they did that, nonessential businesses in St. Charles County closed voluntarily at the same rate they closed in other jurisdictions where government ordered them to,” a press release from Ehlmann’s office said.
Ehlmann noted the growth of cases in the region began changing in April, when St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties began “flattening the curve” while cases elsewhere continued to increase.
That trend continued while the nature of the pandemic changed in June. While cases are up, deaths are down.
The number of cases in the 20 to 40 age group has nearly tripled and Ehlmann stressed this age group most needs reminding about the need for a mask.
“It is proven that wearing a mask helps stop the spread,” he says, “and that message has been repeated over and over again throughout the world. It’s time for everyone to step up and take personal responsibility.”
Public Health Department Director Demetrius Cianci-Chapman emphasized it is more important than ever for everyone to get on board with wearing a mask. “We are seeing a resurgence in some parts of the country, including in Missouri,” Cianci-Chapman says, “but it’s not too late to turn it around if everyone is cautious and mindful of others.”
St. Charles County reported a total of 1,094 COVID-19 cases and 76 deaths as of July 3. It is one of four jurisdictions with more than 1,000 cases, but has the lowest rate of cases per 100,000 residents of the four.
The face mask requirement for the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County will go into effect at 7 a.m. on July 3.