CLAYTON, Mo. — One week after the County Council voted down the most recent mask mandate, and the day a judge ordered it can't be enforced until the mandate is discussed in court, Councilwoman Lisa Clancy (D-District 5) introduced a new mask ordinance for the county.
“We have data that shows that people are more likely to wear a mask when it's required. We also know that masking helps to stop the spread of coronavirus," Clancy told 5 On Your Side before the meeting. "Wearing this simple piece of fabric over your face has a huge impact. So it is necessary.”
Council members last week mentioned opposition to the mandate because they don't like the way County Executive Sam Page went about issuing it or didn't understand how it would be enforced. Councilwoman Clancy said consider this a re-do.
“We care about the public health of the members of our community," she said. "Let's stand together to take the intervention that we need to against the spread of COVID and the Delta variant. And if you don't like the enforcement mechanism right now? Let's work together to get a version that you all like.”
She said that she believes the law is on the right side of a ban on some COVID-19 business restrictions now in effect in Missouri.
“My goal to make sure that people don't get treated like criminals for violating this mandate. It is such, though, with possible injunctive relief, they could get called to court. And if they are found in contempt of court, that's a whole separate violation,” she said. “You know what I'm going to tell my colleagues tonight, though, is this is an invitation to work with me.”
The councilwoman said she got nearly 800 emails from people who support a mask mandate. However, in two hours of public comment during Tuesday night’s Council meeting, not one person stood to speak in support of a mandate.
"We didn’t elect you to manage our health or make our personal health decisions for us," said one woman.
"My mental, physical, and spiritual health and well-being is no one’s responsibility but mine," said another woman. "Death comes for us all, it is the great equalizer."
One woman who made her way to the podium and was given a few moments to speak after the end of the formal comment period told the Council she's visiting St. Louis from Florida, but wanted to come to the meeting to speak against mask mandates.
Just before the meeting adjourned, councilmen Tim Fitch (R-District 3) and Ernie Trakas (R-District 6) made clear what they'll do when this bill comes to a vote.
“I look forward to a robust discussion,” said Fitch. “I’ll tell you right now, you are never going to get me to vote in favor of a forced mask mandate.”
“I too would never support an ordinance that forces the citizens of St. Louis County to wear a mask,” said Trakas.
Though Clancy requested a discussion of the bill in a committee of the whole sometime in the coming days, it is unclear if that will happen before the bill comes up for a vote at next Tuesday night’s meeting.