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County Executive will not require residents to wear masks

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann says he will not mandate the wearing of masks in public the way St. Louis City and County are.

“When it comes to masks, I have faith that the citizens of St. Charles County will do the right thing without government coercion,” Ehlmann said in a press statement released on July 2. “I will continue to do everything I can to remind our citizens that, along with the freedom to decide, they have a responsibility to protect the health of others by wearing a mask.”

The approach is consistent with earlier decisions by the county executive.

When other jurisdictions mandated the closure of businesses they deemed “nonessential,” Ehlmann chose to order residents to frequent only businesses they deemed essential. After they did that, nonessential businesses in St. Charles County closed voluntarily at the same rate they closed in other jurisdictions where government ordered them to do so.

St. Charles County opened in early May following recommendations from the governor’s task force. According to the county, coronavirus cases continued to decline throughout May. While cases are up in June, deaths are down as the nature of the pandemic has changed, the press statement noted. Specifically, the number of cases in the 20 to 40 age group has nearly tripled. Ehlmann stressed this age group most needs reminding about the need for a mask. 

“It is proven that wearing a mask helps stop the spread,” Ehlmann said, “and that message has been repeated over and over again throughout the world. It’s time for everyone to step up and take personal responsibility.”

Public Health Department Director Demetrius Cianci-Chapman also emphasized that it is more important than ever for everyone to voluntarily wear a mask.

“We are seeing a resurgence in some parts of the country, including in Missouri,” Cianci-Chapman said, “but it’s not too late to turn it around if everyone is cautious and mindful of others.”

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