ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The St. Louis County Council did not vote on a mask mandate Tuesday night after questions over how the legislation was filed.
Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, a Democrat, filed legislation calling for a vote on a countywide mask mandate, but Councilwoman Tim Fitch, a Republican, filed opposition saying the legislation did not go through the normal legislative process. Fitch's order of opposition was sustained, and the council ultimately did not vote on a mask mandate.
Fitch said the council “won’t take it up again unless Fifth District Councilwoman Lisa Clancy or Second District Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway resubmit it next week or in the future.”
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page called the decision to delay a possible vote "unfortunate" in a tweet Wednesday morning.
"It is unfortunate that the council unnecessarily delayed a vote affirming a vital health order. The delay of several weeks demanded by councilman Fitch & affirmed by chairwoman Days will add both confusion & risk into the holidays of [St. Louis County] residents & visitors," Page wrote. "The 'Fitch bump' in infections and illness will be measurable."
The decision Tuesday night came hours after Missouri Attorney General sent letters to schools and health departments across the state telling them to stop enforcing measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19, including mask mandates and quarantine orders.
The letters contained details about last month’s ruling from a Cole County judge. Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled local health orders in Missouri are illegal and should be lifted. He said the orders violate the Missouri Constitution’s separation of powers clause affecting the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
Green ordered all existing health orders issued by local health officials are “null and void.”
Schmitt said his letter to health departments and schools demands they “rescind and cease enforcement and publicizing of public health orders, mask mandates, quarantine orders, or other orders that were declared null and void by the recent decision.”
The county was not listed as part of the lawsuit that led to Judge Green's ruling, so county attorney Neal Perryman said they need time to work through the ramifications of the ruling.
On Monday, the City of St. Louis Department of Health reminded residents its mask mandate is still in effect. It was voted on and put into place the day after the judge’s Nov. 23 ruling. It’s filed under Health Commissioner’s Order #5 and was adopted by the Board of Aldermen as Resolution #142.
“The City is utilizing distinct local authority, in accordance and consistent with the requirements of State statute, for the continuing implementation of its Mask Mandate,” the health department wrote in the release.