Around 40 citizens packed out council chambers Tuesday night to rebuke the mandate.
Source: Adan Salazar
A mask battle is being waged in St. Louis County, Missouri.
After the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday voted 5–2 during a heated meeting to rescind a recently imposed mask order, County Executive Sam Page on Wednesday declared the vote null and void.
The council argued Page ignored state law when he imposed the latest mandate, which went into effect on Monday.
“Too many American men and women have given the last full measure of devotion for us to be cavalier with the very liberty they fought and died to provide,” said Republican Councilman Ernie Trakas. “I will not abide any measures that seek to compromise or erode our liberty and freedom.”
Missouri Attorney General Eric Shmitt filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County and St. Louis City last week, saying Page’s public health order effectively violated the US Constitution.
“This continued government overreach is unacceptable and unconstitutional, especially in the face of a widely available vaccine,” a press release from Schmitt’s office stated.
Ahead of the vote, acting county health director Faisal Khan reportedly told the council its decision to rescind the order would lead to “more death.”
“If the council, in its infinite wisdom, negates this order, there will be more misery,” he said. “There will be more infection. There will be more death.”
Even council chair Rita Heard Days asked Khan why the county would continue to follow his orders given they’ve allegedly led to the spread of the virus.
“You asked us to stay home. You asked us to put on masks. You asked us to stay six feet apart. Then those (restrictions) were relaxed. We have done everything you have asked us to do. And we have played by the rules. We have followed your orders. And yet we are still in a predicament. So, something is not working. … I want to know, what did we not do correctly.”
Khan condescendingly replied, “We didn’t talk to the virus about how it should behave.”
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, around 40 citizens packed out the council chambers Tuesday night, “nearly all of them opposed the mask mandate.”
Some of the anti-mask attendees carried signs that said, “Stop the Tyranny,” “My Body, My Choice,” and “We Will Not Comply.”
“And after the vote to rescind it, the room erupted in cheers,” the Post reported.
The testimonies can be seen in the following video, uploaded to the Council’s YouTube channel (testimonies start around 1:07:40):
One mother read a letter from her daughter complaining about how she can’t breathe in class and frequently gets headaches from wearing the mask, prompting her mother to come pick her up early. (2:18:44)
After the vote, Councilman Tim Fitch, one of the sponsors of the proposal, celebrated the outcome, saying, “State law gives us the authority to do what we did tonight, and the mask mandate has ended.”
However, no sooner had the vote been passed than Page immediately shot it down, dismissing the “vocal minority” as a pointless spectacle.
“Masks will allow our businesses to remain open,” Page said Wednesday. “Masks will allow us to keep doing what we’re doing while more people get vaccinated.”
“These cases, and this curve is shooting straight up,” Page said, according to the Post-Dispatch. “And if we don’t make some decisions fast, we’re going to be in a bad spot.”
In order to solve the impasse, Page remarked he’ll wait for the courts to take up the attorney general’s lawsuit, saying that “until then, the law stands.”
It’s unclear where Page draws the authority to reject the will of the voters through an official city council vote.