Residents of St. Louis County in Missouri won’t be mandated to wear masks for at least two weeks after a local judge granted a temporary restraining order against the requirement that was issued in July.
Circuit Judge Ellen “Nellie” Ribaudo on Aug. 3 ruled in favor of state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who had filed a lawsuit to halt the mask mandate that was first announced by County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.
The judge has scheduled a hearing on a preliminary injunction for Aug. 17.
Last week, the county council voted 5–2 to repeal the mandate that would have required masks to be worn in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status, but the county executive insisted the mandate remained in effect.
“The court notes that although some will take this court’s ruling as a victory there is no victory while the COVID-19 virus remains a significant threat to public health and there is no question it remains a significant threat to public health,” Ribaudo wrote in her ruling. “There can be no victory until the residents of St. Louis County and the State of Missouri are no longer risking their health, well-being, and lives at the hands of COVID-19 virus.”
Schmitt said that Ribaudo’s ruling was a “huge win” for county residents.
“This is an important, hard-fought victory, but our fight against unreasonable and unconstitutional government overreach continues,” Schmitt said in a statement.
Page said on Twitter that he’s “disappointed” in the judge’s decision as “more and more mask requirements are put in place across the country to help slow this deadly virus.”
“The CDC recommends wearing masks in public places and we ask everyone to follow that guidance as we continue our vaccine efforts,” he wrote.
The Delta strain of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus was first identified in India late last year and currently makes up approximately 83 percent of all new sequenced cases in the United States, according to federal officials.
The CDC has updated its guidance to say that fully vaccinated individuals in areas with “substantial and high transmission” of COVID-19 should wear masks indoors in some areas, including schools, citing new research into outbreaks from several states and other countries.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters last month that research indicates that “on rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others.”
Fully vaccinated individuals who contract the Delta variant may have the same viral load as people who are unvaccinated, Walensky said.
“This new science is worrisome and warrants an update to our recommendations,” Walensky said.