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St. Louis County Council votes down resolution for new mask mandate

The resolution was voted down by a voice vote. A request for a roll call vote was denied

CLAYTON, Mo. — The St. Louis County Council voted down another mask mandate, this time one brought forward in a resolution by Councilwoman Lisa Clancy.

The council voted against the resolution that would put in place a mask mandate in the county. The decision came weeks after the council voted to terminate the one put in place by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and the St. Louis County Department of Health.

Tuesday night's resolution was voted down by a voice vote. A request by Clancy for a roll call vote was denied by chairwoman Rita Heard-Days.

The vote came after hours of in-person public feedback and debate from members of the council Tuesday night.

Councilwomen Clancy and Kelli Dunaway spoke in favor of the ordinance. Council members Ernie Trakas, Tim Fitch, Mark Harder and Shalonda Webb spoke against it.

“We have plenty of information before us that shows COVID numbers are up in our community," said Councilwoman Dunaway, (D) District 2. "Science, public health, medical professionals, doctors, critical care nurses, pediatricians, all saying the same thing. Mask up and get vaccinated to protect the community and end this pandemic.”

The children of St. Louis County are at our mercy to protect them," said Councilwoman Clancy, (D) District 5. "And, with tens of thousands of unvaccinated children going back to school in the next few weeks, we owe it to them to do everything we can to keep them healthy.”

Clancy said again Tuesday that she has received hundreds of emails from county residents who do not want to attended the meetings in person but want to voice their support for a mask mandate. 

But in the council chamber it was once again mostly people opposed to a mask mandate.

“You say for now, 'It's just a mask,'" said county resident McKenna Suermann. "But it becomes it's just a mandated vaccine, it's just not singing in church, it's just isolation. It's just your livelihood," she said echoing concerns many in the two hours of public comment shared about what they said is infringement on their personal liberty.

"History tells us where this ends," Suermann said. "It turns into, 'It's just your liberty. It's just your faith. It's just your humanity and it's just your soul.'”

While some of those speaking to the council against mask mandates shared easily debunked misinformation about COVID, masks, and the vaccine, Councilman Tim Fitch, (R) District 3, said he has more substantive concerns about the ordinance as it was written. 

Councilman Fitch told his fellow councilmembers the ordinance contained ambiguity that could lead to fines of up to $2,000 and a year in jail for failing to comply with a health ordinance, a Class A misdemeanor under state law Fitch said without clarification in the bill. 

“As long as there's anything like this out there...I will never be in favor of anything like this," said Fitch who added he is "certainly in favor of recommendations" to wear a mask.

Councilman Ernie Trakas told the council the previous mask mandate that is currently before the court is schedule for a hearing as soon as Thursday although details of that hearing were not immediately available.