ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Councilwoman Lisa Clancy will introduce mask mandate legislation at next week's council meeting as the lawsuit to stop the current mandate heads to federal court.
Councilwoman Clancy wrote a letter to Associate County Counselor Gen Frank asking the counselor's office to prepare legislation to enact a mask mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19. The county counselor, Beth Orwick, is the lawyer who oversees all the county's legal business.
The letter comes days after the council voted to terminate the mask mandate put in place by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.
The council voted 5-2 to terminate the mask mandate, with many of the council members taking issue with the fact that Page did not consult the council before putting the order in place.
Clancy was one of two council members who voted to keep the mandate in place, and she will bring forward the new legislation at Tuesday's meeting.
Clancy's was not the only request the county counselor's office received for the upcoming council meeting.
Councilwoman Sholanda Webb requested the counselor's office draft legislation to require all St. Louis County employees and contractors be vaccinated against COVID-19.
At the end of Tuesday night's council meeting, the council members who voted against the mask mandate passed a resolution calling on all county residents to get vaccinated.
After the vote Tuesday night, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page held a briefing on Wednesday where he said the mask mandate would stay in effect.
“I want to make it clear that a mask mandate remains in place in St. Louis County,” Page said. “There is currently a lawsuit challenging that mandate, until that’s resolved, masks are required in all indoor public spaces.”
Page went on to explain the reasons why the mask mandate was put in place to begin with. He mentioned the rise in COVID-19 cases and positivity rate in the county and said when they lifted health protocols in May, they thought more people would be vaccinated by now.
"The virus is simply spreading faster than we are getting people vaccinated,” Page said. “Masks slow down the spread while we continue our aggressive efforts to make the vaccine available for everyone."
The mandate is also facing a legal challenge from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Schmitt filed a lawsuit in St. Louis County Monday in an attempt to stop mask mandates in both St. Louis and St. Louis County. On Wednesday, he requested a temporary restraining order that would stop the mandate while the case plays out in court.
On Friday, ahead of a 2:30 hearing on the restraining order, the county was granted a request to move the suit to federal court.
Schmitt called the move a "sad delay tactic" and said he will continue to fight the mandate.
Both Page and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones have called the lawsuit frivolous and a way for Schmitt to raise his political profile. Schmitt is running for U.S. Senate in 2022, to fill the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.
"Missourians have sadly become accustomed to the Attorney General using their tax dollars to further his own political ambitions at the expense of the public's health and well-being," said Nick Dunne, a spokesman for Mayor Jones' office. "We look forward to this frivolous lawsuit failing like so many of his others."
St. Louis County was also informed Friday that a federal appeals court sided with the county in a lawsuit alleging the 2020 stay-at-home order impeded religious freedoms, among other violations. The court said the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case.