(The Center Square) – As COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths rise in Missouri, conflicts continue regarding the strategies to prevent the spread of the virus.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Schmitt successfully won from a St. Louis County court a temporary restraining order against the county for implementing an indoor mask mandate. The cities of Kansas City and St. Louis recently announced indoor mask mandates. Schmitt posted on social media an intent to take legal action against Kansas City because of the mandate.
The legal actions take place as seven of the 10 largest school districts in Missouri announced indoor mask mandates when the school year begins the week of Aug. 23. Many districts are monitoring public health orders before announcing back-to-school directives.
“The district continues to monitor COVID in our community,” Michelle Baumstark, chief communications officer for Columbia Public Schools, wrote in an email. “We are also monitoring information being released by various education and health authorities, including CDC (the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), DESE (Missouri department of elementary and secondary education), comparable school districts across the state, higher education entities and others. We are continuing work on our 2021-22 plan for our return in the fall with regard to procedures, protocols and mitigation strategies based on our full in-person return. Prior to the start of the new school year, families will be provided with information.”
Several higher education institutions, including Columbia College, Lincoln University, St. Louis University, Truman State University, the University of Missouri, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University and William Jewell College, are implementing indoor mask requirements this fall.
Three days after six Republican senators wrote Gov. Mike Parson calling for a special session to address employer-mandated vaccinations, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry voiced opposition to banning private-sector requirements.
On Aug. 2, state Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, highlighted several concerns with Missouri employers requiring an “experimental vaccination” as a condition of employment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccines, but not full approval.
“Mandating our citizens to inject themselves with an experimental drug flies in the face of these principles and puts Missourians in the position of choosing between their livelihoods and their right to control their own lives,” Brattin wrote in a letter signed by Ses. Bill Eigel, R-St. Charles, Bob Onder, R-St. Charles, Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, and Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston.
“It’s not our job to force it nor is it the job of businesses and employers to force the vaccine,” Brattin wrote.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce launched a program last month to recognize businesses and organizations with high levels of vaccinated employees.
“The Missouri Chamber stands against attempts to place reckless new restrictions on the state’s business community,” Daniel P. Mehan, president and chief executive officer of the Missouri Chamber, said in a statement on Thursday. “Employers have long had the ability to mandate vaccinations and the Missouri Chamber believes all employers should continue to have this right when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. An employer’s ability to mandate vaccination is supported by state law, federal law and the courts.”
Approximately 42% of Missourians completed the vaccination process and 51% received at least one dose, ranking 40th in the nation. Nationally, 58% of the population has received at least one dose.
“Vaccination is the key to Missouri’s economic recovery,” Mehan said. “Getting vaccinated is good for business, good for public health and it’s the only way Missouri can begin to put this pandemic behind us. Private employers in Missouri have helped lead the push for COVID-19 vaccination in Missouri – a recent Missouri Chamber survey found that 83% of Missouri employers are encouraging their staff members to get vaccinated. In some cases, businesses have taken the step to mandate vaccination in order to ensure the safety of their workforce and customers.”
Several of Missouri’s largest health systems are requiring employees to be fully vaccinated within the next month. Culver Stockton College, Rockhurst University, William Jewell College, St. Louis University and Washington University also will require COVID-19 vaccinations this school year.
The following are seven-day averages pertaining to COVID-19 recorded on June 1 compared to Aug. 3 in Missouri:
- New daily cases: 391 to 2,667
- Hospitalizations: 663 to 2,040
- Deaths: 10 to 24
Originally Appeared Here