The city of St. Louis reversed course less than 24 hours after reimplementing mask mandates, announcing Friday afternoon that it would no longer require city employees to mask up while working following pushback from hospitals, health experts, and the governor.
“The City of St. Louis has updated its communications with employees surrounding masking,” said a representative from Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office.
“The City of St. Louis Department of Health strongly recommends masking indoors for all City of St. Louis employees, effective immediately.”
This came one day after city health director Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis said that COVID-19, RSV and flu cases in the city justified masking up again.
On Friday, however, the department updated its original statistics with ‘less alarming’ data regarding RSV trends, according to KSDK.
“BJC is not seeing a strain on hospital capacity,” BJC Health Care officials told the outlet, adding “We are experiencing a seasonal increase in respiratory illness, which is typical for this time of year.”
Mercy Hospital described it as a “typical winter.” St. Louis County said they haven’t seen any out-of-the-ordinary strains on the health system.
“Luckily our influenza has not spiked yet and it is going up, but it’s not nearly what it was last year,” according to Dr. Jim Hinrichs, the interim co-director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. “It’s moderate. It’s not alarming.”
Gov. Mike Parson’s office confirmed to 5 On Your Side it had a conversation with Jones’ office on Friday related to the city’s mask policy shift. -KSDK
The health department had originally claimed that COVID-19 hospitalizations were up 38% over December, as 278 people were hospitalized with (but not necessarily because of) COVID-19 during the week of Dec. 23. Flu cases rose an alleged 455%.
Perhaps, as Ian Miller noted on X, the reversal was because of the sudden realisation that masks never made a difference in St.Louis anyway…