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Foreign-Born Health Official Orders Surprise Mask Mandate in Major American City – Then the Mayor Steps In

Foreign-Born Health Official Orders Surprise Mask Mandate in Major American City – Then the Mayor Steps In

After a St. Louis health official summarily decided to bring back masking mandates at City Hall because she felt the flu bug was virulent enough to justify the move, the mayor stepped in to bring some sanity to the situation.

On Wednesday, St. Louis Health Director Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis issued an order that would have forced all employees, elected officials and visitors to wear medical face masks inside City Hall, according to the Riverfront Times of St. Louis.

Indeed, Hlatshwayo Davis even demanded that city officials would have to mask up when riding in city vehicles while on the job.

It was presumed that the health chief meant that employees had to mask up in vehicles when there were at least two of them riding together, but her policy announcement was not exactly clear on that point.

Hlatshwayo Davis, who was born in Zimbabwe, cited COVID-19 as well as other viral infections currently making their way through the population as justification for her order.

“The number of flu cases this season is 55 percent higher than the highest median value of the past five years, and continues to trend sharply upward,” she wrote in her order, according to the Times. “Similarly, RSV positive tests in BJC’s health system are 190 percent higher than the highest median value of the previous 4-years.”

“For COVID-19, 270 people in the St. Louis region were hospitalized with COVID-19 during the week of 12/23/23, a 26 percent increase over the previous week, and a 38 percent increase from one month prior,” Hlatshwayo Davis said.

“Wastewater surveillance also shows rapidly increasing viral activity in the City and St. Louis region,” she said, adding, “With activity of winter viruses rising at such a rapid pace, we must take action to slow transmission and prevent strain on our hospital systems.”

This order was sent via email to all city employees and officials on Wednesday as if it were still 2021 or something.

St. Louis held onto its original mask mandate for longer than many other cities, ending it only in March 2022. Hlatshwayo Davis was also health director when the first mandate was instituted in November 2021.

But as soon as her latest mandate went out, people started questioning her power to summarily make such decisions.

The order did not sit well with many, and employees pointed out that Hlatshwayo Davis does not have the authority under Missouri state law to make such sweeping decisions.

In fact, in an update to its story, the Riverfront Times noted that the governor’s office quickly reached out to St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones to alert her to the overstepping of authority in which Hlatshwayo Davis was engaging. The governor’s actions caused the Democratic mayor to make a quick retraction.

In short order, Jones’ office issued an order countermanding the health director.

A “revised and reissued” order Wednesday from Sonya R. Jenkins-Gray, the city’s director of personnel, said, “The City of St. Louis does not require employees to wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status.”

However, the mayor sided with Hlatshwayo Davis to a degree by “strongly recommending” that everyone wear masks.

“The City of St. Louis has updated its communications with employees surrounding masking,” Jones’ office said, according to KSDK-TV. “The City of St. Louis Department of Health strongly recommends masking indoors for all City of St. Louis employees, effective immediately.”

“Mayor Jones supports the steps Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis and the Department have taken to safeguard the health of employees at this time of rising illness and encourages community members and employees to carefully review the recommendations from the Department of Health to keep staff and community members safe,” the message concluded.

Despite the alarmism from Jones and Hlatshwayo Davis, St. Louis hospital officials said they were not seeing an unexpected rise in patients to the point where mask mandates would be required.

“BJC is not seeing a strain on hospital capacity. We are experiencing a seasonal increase in respiratory illness, which is typical for this time of year,” BJC Health Care officials told KSDK.

For its part, Mercy Hospital called the current uptick in patients just a “typical winter” scenario.

St. Louis County health officials also said was no undue rise in infections.

“Luckily our influenza has not spiked yet and it is going up, but it’s not nearly what it was last year,” said Dr. Jim Hinrichs, the interim co-director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. “It’s moderate. It’s not alarming.”

It all seems to be yet another case of an unelected government functionary who imagines she has the powers of life and death over the public.

Fortunately, the state of Missouri stepped in and passed rules grasping back some of the obscene powers many of these “health officials” exercised during the worst of the pandemic years.

But it also shows that these officials got very used to wielding that power and still expect to continue doing so — unless they are stopped.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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