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After St. Louis council vote, Schmitt asks court to immediately halt mask mandate

As the St. Louis County Council and County Executive Sam Page continue to butt heads over a mask mandate, Attorney General Eric Schmitt asked a court to immediately halt the order. 

Schmitt filed a lawsuit earlier this week challenging the constitutionality of the new mandate requiring masks, including among fully vaccinated people, in the city and county of St. Louis. The county council voted to reject the mandate Tuesday, but Page has maintained the order is still in effect. 

On Wednesday, the attorney general filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to immediately halt the mandate. 

“County Executive Page is wrong, and today we asked a court for an order to remind him of that fact,” Schmitt, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, said. 

St. Louis reinstated a mask mandate for all indoor public places for individuals who are at least 5 years old. Face coverings while outdoors will be encouraged, the city and county said in a joint press release. 

Kansas City quickly followed: A similar mandate will be in effect throughout the month of August. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) issued new guidance this week recommending fully vaccinated people don face coverings in areas of substantial or high risk transmission.

“Today’s renewed indoor mask guidance from the [CDC] confirms what our administration has been advocating: Wearing masks is an important step in protecting residents and stopping the spread of COVID-19 amid a spike in hospitalizations,” Nick Dunne, a spokesperson for the city of St. Louis, said. “While vaccination is still the best way to prevent severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19, wearing masks will help stop the spread to others until more people throughout St. Louis are fully vaccinated.” 

The 37-page lawsuit filed in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County Monday evening asked for the mandate to be declared “unconstitutional, unlawful, arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, and invalid” under state law. The lawsuit said HB 271, signed by Gov. Mike Parson earlier this month, required a report showing the need for such an order, but one was not provided. 

Schmitt has vowed to sue Kansas City as well, although a spokesman for the attorney general said one had not been filed as of Wednesday evening. 

In St. Louis County, more than 1,300 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and one has died in the past week, according to data from the state’s health department. The city has reported more than 400 positive cases in the past seven days. About 45 percent of people in St. Louis County have been completely vaccinated; that figure is 10 percent lower in the city. 

In Kansas City, 39 percent of people have been fully vaccinated. Nearly 1,000 positive cases have been reported in the past week, and three people have died, according to the state’s data.