July 1, 2020
St. Charles County, Missouri – While medical experts initially questioned the benefit of masks at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann says that since the CDC began recommending usage, the County’s Department of Public Health has encouraged the use of masks.
“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 when learning that St. Louis City and St. Louis County are mandating the use of masks. Ehlmann added, “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.”
This 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.
When St. Charles County followed the governor’s plan to reopen in early May, Ehlmann again expressed faith that his constituents would be responsible with their new-found freedom, and local businesses would not open until they had done everything they could to ensure the safety of customers. That is what happened, and coronavirus case continued to decline throughout May. (See chart 1 in PDF link)
Ehlmann pointed out that the growth of cases in the region began changing in April, when St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties began flattening the curve while cases continued to increase elsewhere. (See chart 2 in PDF link) That trend continued while the nature of the pandemic changed in June. While cases are up, deaths are down. (See chart 3 in PDF link)
The number of cases in the 20 to 40 age group has nearly tripled and Ehlmann stressed this age group most needs reminding about the need for a mask. (See chart 4 in PDF link) “It is proven that wearing a mask helps stop the spread,” he says, “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 emphasized it is more important than ever for everyone to get on board with wearing a mask. “We are seeing a resurgence in some parts of the country, including in Missouri,” Cianci-Chapman says, “but it’s not too late to turn it around if everyone is cautious and mindful of others.”