Both the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County have reinstated their mask mandates. Masks are once again required in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status. But three municipalities within the county announced that they will not enforce the mandate.
Chesterfield, Wildwood, and Eureka have declared that they will not use law enforcement to uphold the mandates. Chesterfield City Administrator Mike Geisel responded to The Epoch Times’ request for comment, saying “Chesterfield WILL adhere to the County Order, as we are legally required to do. All city facilities and staff will comply with the county directive.”
But he then went on to explain that Chesterfield does not have the legal jurisdiction to uphold a county order. It is against Missouri state statutes to enforce county ordinances, and they do not have the resources to do so.
Chesterfield Mayor Bob Nation released a similar statement, but also noted, “If a business establishment imposes requirements on their patrons to wear masks at in-door public places and a patron refuses to comply, our officers will respond to a call from the business to keep the peace. To be clear, our officers will only respond to calls from business establishments in order to keep the peace.”
Mayor James Bowlin of Wildwood has a different approach. He responded by expressing that his decision is based on more than just technicalities.
He noted that if the county wants to impose a mandate, the county will have to enforce it. “If that’s what they want to do it’s up to them.”
In addition, he intends to sign a resolution to combat government overreach, keep businesses open, and make sure that public health concerns are based on the needs of the people. He spoke of comparing outcomes in areas with mask mandates and those without. St. Louis City and County both had strict mask mandates throughout much of the pandemic, but nearby, St. Charles County did not.
“I’ve been looking at the data and in areas like St. Charles it shows that infection rates are the same in St. Louis County and that their death rate is actually better, it’s around half,” Bowlin said.
During the past 14 days, St. Charles County has reported 1 death and 40 hospitalizations.
The City of St. Louis, by contrast, had 4 new deaths over the same period and 653 hospitalizations.
The St. Louis County tracker focuses mostly on the case count. The latest 7-day average of new cases is 285.
The county’s daily death rate has not surpassed single digits this month, following many days without any COVID-19 deaths in June.
Bowlin concluded that “the data shows that we can achieve safety without mandating masks.” He also questioned the future of government policy and public health concerns. “If cases going up is the new benchmark for mandates, we could be required to wear a mask in perpetuity.”
When asked if he recognizes concerns over unwarranted repeats of 2020 measures, Bowlin declared, “I’m not into taking steps back.”
While Wildwood is taking a stronger stance than Chesterfield, no one from the Eureka government responded to requests for comment, but unlike most other municipal websites, theirs does not even mention COVID-19 at all. There are no case counts, lists of hospitalizations, no death tracker, nor any vaccine program advertisements. COVID is not at the focal point of their government relations.
Eureka Mayor Sean Flower told KSDK, “It’s nothing we enforce, so our police aren’t involved with it—our city hall, all that. We’re at a point now where we don’t see the justification for what’s going on.”
The mask debate has been a constant point of contention between local and state governments. Schools and private businesses have all been affected by it. In Lansing, Michigan, two parents and a Catholic school are suing to remove a mask mandate on grounds of religious freedom.
The state of Missouri never imposed a mask mandate. From the beginning of the pandemic, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has spoken out against government-imposed masking, and recently took to Twitter to defend his position. He said that “re-imposing mask mandates regardless of vaccination status is WRONG.”
The CDC has again changed its guidance to advise that vaccinated people in areas with substantial or high transmission should continue wearing a mask when indoors in public to prevent spreading the Delta variant.
Despite their different approaches, Eureka, Wildwood, and Chesterfield have set their own standards and are upholding the legal boundaries which prevent larger governments from presiding over their people. How businesses and individuals in these areas proceed is up to them.