Tension rising between St. Louis County executive and MO AG

Letters exchanged between Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and St. Louis County Executive Director Sam Page indicate that tension between them is mounting

ST. LOUIS – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page listen to COVID-19 restrictions. Schmitt calls them “the strictest in the state who have encroached upon personal and economic freedoms”.

The I-Team received a 10-page letter on April 20, which Schmitt wrote to Dr. Faisal Khan, the county public health director, sent to cite medical research and data that pushed the county’s shutdown orders forward.

“The pandemic restrictions were designed as temporary measures and not intended as an endless new world of exceptional government interference in the lives of individual Missourians,” he wrote.

District attorney Beth Orwick responded seven days later with a four-page letter along with a compendium of some of the research the district had used to support its decisions.

About 24 hours after the letter was sent, Page announced that he would be easing some restrictions soon. This announcement is expected on Monday.

RELATED: City and County of St. Louis to jointly announce COVID-19 restrictions

In her letter, Orwick suggested that Page already knew the county was preparing for it.

“Given the growing number of St. Louis County residents who received a COVID-19 vaccine, the county public health policy, and the hard work and sacrifice of so many people, the situation in St. Louis County has grown up to Improving this point is that DPH has recently considered changing its health regulations … which you apparently know about, ”she wrote, concluding with an invitation to Schmitt and his staff to meet with the county’s health ministry staff to“ see the remarkable progress to discuss what has been achieved. ”

You can read the letter from St. Louis County Attorney Beth Orwick to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt below:

Schmitt’s spokesman said he was unaware of the upcoming changes, and the letter was written on behalf of hundreds of St. Louis County residents who raised concerns about Page’s absolute authority to impose uncontrolled restrictions – including Bridget Schmidt and her son Luke, 18.

The Oakville High School senior had to take a break during an interview with the I-Team while talking about how he spent the first semester of his senior year in only virtual classes. He saw the school’s outdoor homecoming parade canceled and missed some youth sports.

His mother said she sent letters to the school district, the district council, and eventually Attorney General Eric Schmitt in hopes that someone might interfere with what she was running as a dictatorship in St. Louis County.

She said she was pleased that Schmitt included her concerns in his letter to the county.

“Now that we have a wealth of information about the virus and important tools to fight the virus, including a widely used vaccine, it is long past lifting the restrictions that have been placed on Missourians for well over a year,” Schmitt wrote one Statement to the I-Team. “Unfortunately, the St. Louis County response to our letter was unresponsive, misleading, and inadequate.

“Given the unsatisfactory response and the current restrictions, we intend to take legal action.”

The I-Team is waiting for an answer from Page.

Schmitt is just the last to criticize Page’s pandemic response, which the district manager dismissed as nothing more than political attacks.

In her response to Schmitt, Orwick cited Republican Governor Mike Parson’s coronavirus philosophy.

“Gov. Parson has stressed that local governments have primary authority and responsibility to develop the right local responses to COVID-19, including the power to enact stricter regulations related to coronavirus than those that apply elsewhere in the state, “she wrote .

Republicans in the Missouri Legislature supported a bill that passed House 28-2 that required executives, mayors, and other elected leaders across the state to seek approval from elected bodies 15 days after emergency health instructions were issued. This bill will go to the governor’s desk if the Senate approves it.

RELATED: St. Louis restaurant owners are easing restrictions in Kansas City, Nashville

Schmitt said the U.S. Supreme Court’s April 9 ruling in the Tandon v Newsom case also prompted his office to analyze pandemic policies across the state – not just St. Louis County. In this case, the Supreme Court issued an injunction against California’s restrictions on residential gatherings that apply to home religious services.

The attorney general’s office reviewed Safer at Home orders in Springfield, Kansas City, St. Louis City, and Columbia.

“St. Louis County is by far the most restrictive and we felt it was necessary to take action, ”said Schmitt spokesman Chris Nuelle.

In the letter to Khan, Schmitt wrote, “Our review of the fifth amended St. Louis County’s Safer at Home Ordinance and the extensive mandatory“ guidelines ”that the St. Louis County Department of Health imposes on St. Louis County’s nearly million residents has raised a number of serious concerns about the legality of these orders. “

Six issues were highlighted in Schmitt’s letter, including religious freedom, the economic impact of lockdowns on low-income workers and small businesses, the impact of restrictions on elementary and high school students – particularly from low-income families and people with special needs the formation of lifting of restrictions and lifting of restrictions on personal freedom, as well as justification for individual restrictions, including:

  • Youth Sports Guidelines where only two spectators per child are required for youth sports events; Face masks for indoor sports such as water polo, singing for cheerleaders as long as they are three feet apart, in a single line and with masks, and a ban on team huddles, handshakes, punches and other “unnecessary physical contact”.
  • Restaurant restrictions, which require customers to pay six fees from each other at a bar, limit parties at a bar to just two customers, as well as a physical barrier between bartenders and customers, no more than 10 people sitting at a table or when a party is larger than 10, they must sit at separate tables and stay at the table they originally sat at and not physically interact with the other table. Customers unwilling to adhere to record keeping systems for contact tracing purposes must be encouraged to leave
  • Avoid using shared objects in pools, including pasta, kickboards, swimming aids, or disinfecting them after each use
  • Every children’s playground must remain closed
  • Face covering should always be worn during outdoor fitness class and all cardio equipment should be separated by 10 to 12 feet or a barrier
  • Locker room use should be restricted or suspended, and customers are not allowed to bring outside containers including reusable bags or boxes
  • Required face masks for anyone over the age of 5 if they leave the house, including while they are at school, exercising, playing sports indoors, traveling on a lift, and walking on a path that others may walk on
  • Banning parents from summer camp areas and if camp offers roadside pickup and drop-off, parents / guardians must remain in the car until staff opens the car door to pick up the child.
  • Plan trips between rooms or playgrounds so groups don’t pass each other or interact
  • Face masks are required for people aged 2 and over in public transport
  • “Consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers and other first responders. If your programs can’t create a separate classroom, consider only caring for the children of health care workers and first responders. “
  • “Cancel or postpone any special events such as festivals, holiday events, and special performances.”

You can read the letter from Attorney General Eric Schmitt to Dr. Faisal Khan, St. Louis County’s Director of Public Health, read below.

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