St. Louis County and city reimpose mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surge

Both the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County are reimposing an indoor mask mandate in an effort to fight the spread of the delta coronavirus variant and a rise in hospitalizations.

Effective on Monday, the city and county will require all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks inside public places and on transportation. The rule will apply to everyone ages 5 and older.

Wearing masks outside will be encouraged but not required.

“We’ve lost more than 500 St. Louisans to COVID-19, and if our region doesn’t work together to protect one another, we could see spikes that overwhelm our hospital and public health systems,” Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the city of St. Louis, said in a statement.

Delta rising: The move comes three weeks after the county and city recommended people wear masks indoors. The escalation is a sign people did not heed the recommendation, and cases did not decrease as hoped. St. Louis joins Los Angeles County, which reimposed its indoor mask mandate earlier this month as infections from the delta variant rise. The danger is mostly to unvaccinated people, especially in states like Missouri where the vaccination rate is extremely low.