St Louis County’s health director is pleading for unvaccinated residents of his county to ‘get over yourselves’ and ‘do the responsible common sense thing’ in the wake of a COVID-19 surge in the state.
Dr Faisal Khan appeared on ABC News on Wednesday to discuss the city’s mask mandate getting removed by the city council, and a viral video of a crowd cheering the decision.
Khan said that the reversal, paired with recent updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is causing confusion in the state.
The decision comes as Missouri deals with a statewide case surge of nearly 80 percent in two weeks, and St Louis County’s cases double from where they were 14 days ago.
The CDC also revised its guidelines earlier this week, advising areas of high or substantial transmission to bring back indoor mask mandates.
Dr Faisal Khan (pictured) told ABC News that the unvaccinated should ‘do the responsible common sense thing’ and get the shots
‘I am certainly respectful of differing opinions, there’s no doubt about that, however, the greater good and the collective good is more important than individual nuances of liberty and freedom at this point in time,’ Khan told ABC News.
‘As a nation of individualists we are seeing the results of that play out across the country. More death and misery has been caused by attitudes at this point in time than anything else. That is really sad and should call all of us to reflect on what we’re doing.
‘Vaccines are available today. [They] are safe and effective people need to listen to public messages. Get a vaccine, and continue to wear masks because that is a situation we’re confronted with’
Around 56 percent of the county’s one million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccine progress has slowed down in recent months, though, allowing the virus to make a comeback.
After an outbreak began in southwest Missouri, the rest of the state quickly was enveloped by the virus, including the county.
In the past two weeks, cases have doubled from 143 new cases a day on July 14 to 291 on July 28 in the county.
Cases in St Louis County have more than doubled over the past two weeks. County health officials put a mask mandate in place to combat rising cases, though the mandate has since been reversed
Amid the surge, St Louis County decided to bring back its mask mandate.
Their decision was met with ire from many, including the state’s Attorney General.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against St Louis, hoping to repeal the mandate.
Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate, previously filed a failed lawsuit against the government of China because of the pandemic.
‘This continued government overreach is unacceptable and unconstitutional, especially in the face of a widely available vaccine,’ he said in a release.
Under pressure from state leadership and residents, the county council decided to revoke the mandate themselves by a 5-2 vote on Tuesday.
The council meeting was attended by dozens of residents, who broke out in cheers after the mandate was lifted.
A video of the celebration went viral on social media.
Khan derided the decision, though, saying that it will cause confusion.
His agency still recommends that people were masks in public indoor settings in order to protect from the virus.
‘Our public health message based on that mask mandate still stands,’ Khan said.
‘We stand by the recommendations that we made and that mandate which was to encourage people regardless a vaccination status to remain masked while in indoor settings.’
The revised CDC guidelines would apply to St Louis County, along with all but one county in the state, as Missouri as a whole has become a COVID hotspot.
Cases in the state have grown by 77 percent in the past two weeks, from 1,373 on July 12 to 2,442 on July 26.
Cases in Missouri have grown by 77 percent in the past two weeks, and doubled since last month, amid a Delta variant surge
Almost all counties in Missouri, including St Louis County, fall under the new CDC recommendations to wear a mask in indoor public places
The state’s outbreak of the Delta variant – a highly contagious strain that originated in South Asia – began at the end of last month and cases have grown by 250 percent since then.
Khan still says the Department of Health will push to make sure masks are required in schools this fall.
The CDC also recommended that masks be required for all students and staff in K-12 schools this week in areas of high transmission.
The situation in Missouri reflects the COVID situation across the country, as cases are rising due to the Delta variant in places with a low vaccination rate.
Over the past two weeks, cases in the U.S. have doubled, from 30,370 on July 14 to 66,294 on July 28 – a 118 percent increase.
Public health officials continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated – only 56 percent of Americans have received at least one shot – and some COVID mandates are even returning to protect from the virus amid another summer surge.