Breaking News
More () »

St. Louis health leaders ask everyone to return to using a mask indoors, but few signs change

They say COVID-19 cases are rising among unvaccinated people, and they're concerned about the highly infectious delta variant.

ST. LOUIS — One day after St. Louis city and county leaders asked residents to resume wearing masks indoors, a lack of cohesive messaging is leading to confusion.

"We have been a little confused because it doesn’t show it on the entrance sometimes right away," Edyta Tarcynski, a tourist from Chicago, said of mask signage at businesses and attractions.

At the Arch on Friday morning, signs say vaccinated visitors can go mask-less through much of the indoor attractions. A mask is only required during the tram ride to the top. For those not fully vaccinated, the sign adds, "we trust you will wear a mask."

Nick Thornbloom and Nadia Lang are some of the few wearing their masks everywhere, Thornbloom explaining, "We are a little worried for ourselves being unvaccinated, especially because she is at-risk," as he motions to Lang.

The two Floridians tried to get a vaccine before their road trip to Chicago, but only half their four-person party have the shots. Now they're looking around, concerned by what they see.

"We haven't gone inside yet, but I'm thinking that it's going to be exactly like out here, which is disappointing," Thornbloom said. "It shows that people here don't …"

"No respect," Lang chimes in.

"No respect or care for each other," Thornbloom finishes.

Experts say the new mask policy change is actually about consistency.

"I actually have been expecting that there may be a need to do something like this in the near future, and this is based on the reality that this new delta variant is about 50% more contagious than the COVID variants that we've been seeing previously," Dr. Steve Lawrence said.

Lawrence, a Washington University infectious disease physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, says it's a lot easier for shop owners who want to create a safe space for everybody, to ask everyone — regardless of vaccination status — to wear a mask.

"We have set it up so that people are told that 'If you are unvaccinated in indoor spaces, then you should mask,' but this honor system hasn’t been working really well," Lawrence said. "Most people, I think, if you walk around in an indoor space, very few people are masked despite many of those have not been vaccinated."

Hopping on scooters with her family, Oklahoma resident Amanda Hall says they spent Thursday largely indoors because of the rain. A clear forecast Friday allowed them to spend the day outside, but not before noticing a distinct difference in mask usage. 

"We went downstairs for breakfast this morning, and I was really surprised that it was full down there. And no masks except for the employees at the hotel," she said. "They were all wearing masks."

Before You Leave, Check This Out