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What Happened Last Week, December 13, 2021

What Happened Last Week, December 13, 2021

Each week, we do our best to help you stay on top of the news in the County. We're thrilled that so many people find this newsletter a useful resource! (Please share with your friends, who can sign up here:

NOTE: Because we have new subscribers each week (welcome!) we will continue to highlight some items that have appeared in past issues. However, to make it easier for those of you who read What Happened Last Week each week (hello!) we will indicate new or edited content with two asterisks ** and a highlight. We hope that's helpful!

Here are a few reminders, and then we'll turn to this week's updates. (Plus: Read to the end for photos of this week's Pet of the Week!)

General Reminders:
Live Briefings: Dr. Page's press briefings are broadcast live on his County Executive facebook page; they are generally held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30am. ( See past briefings here:

County Council Meeting: The St. Louis County Council holds its meetings at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays; during that meeting Dr. Sam gives his weekly County Executive Report. You can now attend the meeting in person at 41 S. Central Avenue, or watch online. To speak during the public forum portion of the meeting, you must sign up outside of the chamber doors from 6-6:28 p.m. on the date of the meeting. All Council meetings are streamed exclusively to BoxCast. Members of the public can access the stream at **NOTE: The Council's December 21 meeting will be at 1:00pm.

This Week's Updates

**County Extends Condolences to Those Impacted by Storms: Friday's deadly and destructive storms impacted so many throughout the region and country. Dr. Page extended his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives; we are so very sorry for your loss. Please keep them, and all those who suffered property damage, in your prayers. The St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management offered staffing help in Emergency Operating Centers in Madison and St. Charles Counties – again showing that collaborative spirit that we are so proud of in St. Louis County.

**Mask requirement update: Last month, an elected state court judge in Cole County (Jefferson City) ruled that local health orders issued during a pandemic are not valid, which has caused confusion among local public health departments across the state. The Department of Health and Human Services, which the Attorney General purportedly represented in the matter, asked the Attorney General to appeal the judge's ruling. The Attorney General refused to do so. (

Instead, the Attorney General has pledged to enforce the Cole County judge's ruling. Accordingly, some public health departments have shuttered their COVID surveillance altogether – including contact tracing. This is incredibly dangerous, and occurs while numbers are rising dramatically and as the new Omicron variant arrives in the state. Please know that the St. Louis County Health Department will continue to do its work to protect the people and livelihoods of St. Louis County.

However, and unfortunately, last Tuesday, the St. Louis County Council – which unquestionably has the authority to issue mask requirements – blocked a new mask requirement requested by the Department of Public Health. (You can read more about that in the FAQ section at the end of this email.)

Accordingly, on Thursday, the County was forced to rescind the mask requirement in St. Louis County. As Dr. Page tweeted: “Because of the Cole County order & the council’s decision not to approve a new face covering order, the Dept. of Public Health director this morning rescinded the prior face covering order. The Health Dept. continues to recommend masks in indoor settings. Covid cases are rising.”

Regardless of the legal wranglings: the advice being given by world, national, state, and local health experts is the same. Masks reduce the spread of this deadly and disabling airborne virus, and keep you and the rest of the community safer. You should wear them when you are in public, indoor spaces, especially when crowded.

Once again, we want to reiterate: minimizing the death and disability caused by this virus – whether for political or personal benefit – needs to stop. COVID is a serious disease that needs to be taken seriously. It has already killed more than 2,600 St. Louis Countians and 15,000 Missourians. It is now the leading natural cause of death in children. Between 10-30% of those who acquire COVID – including children – will go on to develop Post Acute Covid Sequelae (PASC) – a long-term condition that is not yet treatable nor fully understood; some have had long COVID since March 2020.

We believe focusing on the largest public health crisis our country, and this County, has seen in the last 100 years is good leadership; fighting public health efforts targeting data-proven methods to slow transmission within our community is not.

**This Week's Key County Council Votes: Each week the County Council votes on legislation that impacts all of our lives. We know it's often hard to attend or watch the Tuesday night meetings, and difficult to keep up with the votes that are being made. We hope highlighting a few key votes each week will be helpful! Note that you can see what's on the agenda at the Council's website here: Here's what happened last Tuesday:

Council Again Declines to Vote on Mask Requirement in Public Spaces and Public Transit: Last week acting Public Health Director Khan again sent a public health order requiring masks in public places to the Council for approval. Councilwoman Clancy put the order on the agenda. Councilman Fitch (R-3) objected as a "point of order" that the Council needed to go through the three-weeklegislative process. The usual process for "orders" (as opposed to ordinances) is for them to be prepared and ruled upon by the Council in one meeting; this happens on a regular basis. Even so, Council Chair Rita Heard Days agreed with Councilman Fitch's point of order objection, and blocked a vote on the order.

Councilman Drops Bill That Would Prohibit Disclosure of Partisan Affiliation in St. Louis County Elections: This week, Councilman Fitch (R-3) dropped from the agenda a bill he introduced and advanced that proposed non-partisan elections in the County. The bill would have been up for a final vote on Tuesday, but because it was dropped from the agenda no vote was taken. Last week, County Prosecutor Wesley Bell called the bill a "solution in search of a problem." In a statement to the Post-Dispatch, he stated that “[o]ne’s party is indicative of what one believes, and the voters should know where we stand... In this matter, the reality is the suggestion to change countywide elections to non-partisan elections is, in itself, partisan. This is an attempt to minimize Democratic control in a Democratic-majority county.” See

Two Councilmembers Introduce Bills That Would Increase Councilmember Pay: Proposals from two Republican Councilmembers could result in a sizeable increase in pay from the Council's current $20,000 per year. (The council chair is paid an additional $5,000.) Councilman Mark Harder (R-7th) has introduced a proposal for a $10,000 increase. Councilman Ernie Trakas (R-6th) has intorduced a proposal for a $40,000 increase. The Council will debate the proposals at an upcoming hearing.

**Hundreds Mourn St. Louis County Detective Antonio Valentine: St. Louis County Detective Antonio Valentine, 42, was killed in the line of duty when his unmarked car was struck head-on by a fleeing suspect. Detective Valentine is survived by four children. A graduate of Beaumont High School and a member of St. Louis County Police since 2007, he was a serious professional, a kind-hearted man, and a hero. We offer our most sincere condolences to Detective Valentine's family, colleagues, and friends. His death is a tragedy, and his contribution to our community will not be forgotten.

His funeral mass took place Friday at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Military honors and burial followed at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetary. Dr. Page has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in his honor.

Backstoppers, an organization that assists families of fallen officers, has pledged their support. See more:

**Officers Lining Up to Work at Justice Center After Council Approves Hourly Raises: In July, Dr. Page asked the Council to prioritize raises for hourly Justice Services employees as part of its ARPA funding plans. (See After hearing passionate testimony from some corrections officers about the danger posed by staffing shortages, last month the St. Louis County Council unanimously voted to fast-track and approve $5.1 million in COVID-19 recovery funds to issue pay raises – immediately – for nearly 300 hourly frontline jail workers. The bill provides for a $3/hour pay raise through 2024. Dr. Page immediately signed it into law, and was grateful for the Council's action in fast-tracking this long-overdue legislation.

This week we saw the impact of the pay raises, when 40 people applied for positions at the Justice Center! The County is holding a walk-in job fair at the St. Louis County Jail on Dec. 16 from 3-7pm, and Dec. 17 from 8am-12pm. You can also apply for an apprenticeship program that comes with a $500 bonus, and college credits! You can apply directly here:

**Department of Public Health's Health Centers Nationally Recognized for High-Quality Care: DPH’s three permanent health centers received national recertification from the Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition program of the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

The NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home program's standards emphasize the use of systematic, patient-centered, coordinated care that supports access, communication and patient involvement. “NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition raises the bar in defining high-quality care by emphasizing access, health information technology and coordinated care focused on patients,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Recognition shows that the St. Louis County Department of Public Health has the tools, systems and resources to provide its patients with the right care, at the right time.”

Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of DPH, welcomed the news, saying “This is well-earned and well-deserved recognition of the selfless and tireless efforts of our team in providing high quality primary care services to the people of St. Louis County.” Congratulations, DPH!

**Accenture Holds Ribbon Cutting for New Advanced Technology Center, 1,400 Jobs Added: Accenture Federal Services held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the new St. Louis Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in St. Louis County, and announced an apprenticeship and apprenticeship-in-training (AIT) program to be headquartered at the ATC.

Through a partnership with St. Louis County and the Family and Workforce Centers of America, the 12-week AIT program offers a pathway into AFS's apprenticeship program, which is a one-year, salaried apprenticeship program that provides on-the-job training, professional learning and development, as well as the opportunity of a full-time career at AFS. Apprentices-in-training earn a wage while gaining hands-on learning and valuable on-the-job workforce experience.

“Promoting inclusive growth is the centerpiece of our efforts to grow the St. Louis region. Accenture Federal Services is taking a leadership role in that effort by bringing 1,400 new jobs and launching this apprenticeship program to skill and upskill talent and power our technology sector,” said Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc. “Our thanks to Accenture Federal Services for investing and growing in St. Louis, helping to advance the goals of the STL 2030 Jobs Plan.”

**Department of Public Health Deputy Director Spring Schmidt to Become Executive Director for the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence: Deputy Director Spring Schmidt, who served as the department's interim co-director, will leave the Department at the end of the month to become the executive director of the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence, and St. Louis University's Office of Public Health Practice.

There, she will work with health departments and professionals throughout the state to improve health outcomes and ensure proper staff training.

“I am delighted for Spring,” said the health department's acting director, Dr. Faisal Khan. “She is a good friend and an exemplary public health professional and I wish her the very best. Missouri is fortunate to have her services in the new role and I look forward to working together to strengthen the public health system across the state.”

A new deputy director has not yet been named.

**St. Louis County Vaccination Rates Top In State Again!: St. Louis County is the highest vaccinated county in Missouri – 65.7% of St. Louis Countians have at least initiated vaccination, and 57.8% have completed vaccination.

**Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste – First 50 Pounds FREE! Did you know county residents (as well as St. Louis City and Jefferson County residents) can make multiple appointments per year to drop off toxic or hazardous chemicals at an Household Hazardous Waste site? And your first 50 pounds is free with each visit. If you have old batteries, paints, herbicides, pesticides – or other household chemicals/poisons that you need to dispose of, you can do so at the Household Hazardous Waste site and help to keep our environment safe! Go here to see a full list of the chemicals and materials they accept: Visit to make an appointment.

Omicron Variant Preliminarily Identified in St. Louis City: Earlier this month, St. Louis City announced that a resident who tested positive for COVID-19 has been preliminarily identified as having the variant that the World Health Organization (WHO) has named "Omicron." (The CDC has yet to confirm.) Worldwide, studies are being conducted now to learn more about whether Omicron spreads more quickly than other COVID variants, whether it evades natural or vaccine-based immunity, and whether it causes greater disease. We will know more in the coming days.

However, you already have the tools and the knowledge to combat Omicron. At this stage of the pandemic, we all know what we can do to slow and stop the spread of COVID: wear a tight-fitting mask when indoors, especially in crowded areas; increase ventilation by opening doors and windows or installing HEPA air purifiers; get vaccinated – or get a booster. (At least one vaccine manufacturer has announced that it is already working on a variant-specific booster, should one be needed.)

As more information about Omicron and its spread in the region becomes available, Dr. Page and the Public Health Department will share that information. In the meantime, let's all show that generosity of spirit that makes St. Louis County such a wonderful place to live, and do what we can to protect one another.

Dr. Page Appoints Scott Anders as Director of Justice Services: Dr. Page has appointed Scott Anders as the county’s permanent director of Justice Services. The Department of Justice Services is responsible for the overall management, operation, and security of the St. Louis County Justice Center. The department provides direct supervision and guidance for inmate residents to improve their lives before re-entering the community.

“As the Chief Probation Officer for the Eastern District of Missouri, Scott developed national
partnerships to create re-entry programs for inmate residents that he has replicated in his time at the St. Louis County Justice Center,” Dr. Page said. “I’m grateful for Scott’s leadership in successfully advocating for pay raises for corrections officers and am thrilled he’s joining us as permanent director.”

Anders has more than 30 years of experience working in corrections. He joined St. Louis County as deputy director of Justice Services in June 2021. Prior to that, Anders worked for the Eastern District of Missouri as deputy chief in 2009 and then chief in 2018. He also worked for the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Spire’s FERC request granted: A few weeks ago, Spire sent its customers an email warning of potential gas shortages this winter due to a dispute about the St. Louis pipeline. As we noted at the time, all parties involved – including Spire – believed that a pipeline permit extension would be granted soon. We are glad to report that the requested extension was indeed granted and is set to go on for as long as it takes the agency to reach its conclusion on the project.

Dr. Page Joins the Jewish Federation of St. Louis in their Shine a Light on Anti-Semitism Campaign: Last spring, St. Louis County set an example for the region and the country by adopting the IRA definition of anti-semitism, becoming the fourth municipality in the nation to do so. Adopting IRA’s working definition of antisemitism helps law enforcement better identify and fight resurgent hate against jews. As Dr. Page said, “There is no place for intolerance, violence, and discrmination in our society for any group, no matter who they are, how they look, or where they came from.” St. Louis County is proud of its partnership with the AJC, which Dr. Page joined last week to highlight their Shine a Light on Anti-Semitism campaign. Watch more here:

St. Louis County Marks World AIDS Day: Two years ago, Dr. Page joined the mayor of the city of St. Louis in signing the Paris Declaration, which committed governments and other key stakeholders to strengthen our efforts to reduce HIV infections and end AIDS-related deaths. Last week, to mark World AIDS Day, Dr. Page highlighted the work that St. Louis County is doing to further the goals of the Paris Declaration through the Sexual Health Clinic at the Department of Public Health. This clinic provides HIV testing and care at no cost to residents of both the city and the county. In addition, it is working with the state of Missouri on implementing a Rapid Start program at the clinic which will allow it to quickly connect patients to HIV treatment. For more information please call (314) 615-9736 or visit: St. Louis County is honored to work with the City and other local leaders on this project and will continue to honor our commitment to work toward ending the AIDS epidemic.

Dr. Page Encourages All County Employees to Show Respect: Last week, Dr. Page sent an email to St. Louis County employees, encouraging all to be respectful to one another and to the community. While nerves are frayed and tensions are high, it's critical that those in public service remain committed to – and respectful of – the community. As he said in that correspondence:

“[I]t seems the public discourse throughout our nation is growing even more hostile, personal and destructive. It can be easy to get caught up in emotions about these issues, particularly on issues we are passionate about. All of this weighs heavily on each of us in public service. We have serious jobs to do. And we must perform our duties equally for all of our constituents – whether we agree with them or not.

“In this time of rancor, we must commit ourselves to rising above it. St. Louis County simply can’t afford for any county employee at any level to be distracted from the serious duties they are needed to perform for our constituents. I want to remind each of you, at all levels of county government, to treat and to talk about our constituents respectfully.

“People enter public service because they are called by a sense of duty to our community. Please keep that motivation in mind as you continue your work for the people of St. Louis County.”

Recycle Your Holiday Tree, Lights: Wondering what to do after the holiday with your natural tree – or those pesky strands of holiday lights that aren't working anymore? St. Louis County has resources for you! The Parks Department uses recycled fresh-cut natural trees as natural fish habitats and mulch; holiday light recycling is available at Winter Wonderland and some other locations. Check out the full holiday recycling guide here:

COVID Booster Eligibility Expanded; Vaccinations for Children 5-11 Begin: The eligibility for Pfizer and Moderna COVID boosters has been further expanded to include anyone age 18+ who completed their vaccination at least six months ago. Johnson & Johnson boosters are available for anyone 18+ who completed their vaccination at least two months ago. And earlier this month the CDC authorized a lower-dose formulation of the adult Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, after it was found to be safe and 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19.

You can now receive adult vaccines, second doses, and boosters – as well as vaccines for children 5+ at County Health Department locations and vaccine events. NOTE: More than one family member can get a vaccine at the same time, making DPH a convenient option for the entire family. The County is implementing expanded hours to help parents and families with scheduling. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and booster doses will be available during the extended hours. Walk-ups are welcome. For more info visit:

Here are the DPH Clinic hours:

Monday-Friday, John C. Murphy Health Center, 8am-4:30pm
Monday-Friday, North Central Community Health Center, 8am-4:30pm
Monday-Friday, South County Health Center, 8am-4:30pm

And boosters are also available at Library Clinics (Pfizer and J&J)

Wednesdays, SLCL Lewis and Clark, 1-7pm
Thursdays, SLCL Natural Bridge, 1-7pm
Fridays, SLCL Florissant Valley, 9am-4pm
Saturdays, SLCL Rock Road, 9am-4pm

Winter Wonderland in Full Swing! Go to the Winter Wonderland website to see each day's schedule, and for the link to purchase tickets.

Property Tax Season Underway: Did you know that you can pay your personal and real estate taxes online? You can! Just go to to get started. Or, watch this very informative video that walks you though the simple process: You can also mail a check or money order (made payable to ‘COR’) to Collector of Revenue, 41 S. Central Ave, 2nd Floor, Clayton, MO 63105 or drop your payment off in the Collector’s drop box in the lobby of one of the offices Mon – Fri, 8am – 5pm. See the location and hours information at the DOR Frequently Asked Questions page here: Just click on "What offices are open and what can I do there?".

**Frequently Asked Question: This week's FAQ is less a question than a statement we've heard multiple times this week – that people are (understandably, we think) confused about the legal status and effectiveness of masks. Let's break it down.

As you probably know, the Missouri Attorney General has made it his mission to oppose any mask requirements ordered by public health departments, local councils, and even school districts. Armed with an overly-broad reading of a friendly court opinion, the AG has begun threatening those that enforce masking orders.

The St. Louis County Council has the authority to issue mask requirements. Unfortunately, last Tuesday, Council members Tim Fitch and Rita Days used a procedural rule to delay voting on a new mask order requested by the Department of Public Health. Although the Council can issue orders in one week, Councilman Fitch argued that the Council had to issue an ordinance for masks. The typical process for ordinances takes three weeks, unless there is unanimous agreement among Councilmembers to advance the legislation more quickly, or the Council votes to suspend the rules. Council Chair Days agreed with Councilman Fitch's argument, and blocked a vote on the proposed order.

That means that, without unanimous agreement among Councilmembers or an agreement to suspend the rules, the soonest that a mask requirement could go into effect in St. Louis County is three weeks from this Tuesday's meeting.

With the rising cases and the emergence of a new, seemingly highly-transmissible variant (Omicron), it's understandable if you're confused about the actions of the County Council, and the Attorney General.

But you should not be confused about why you should wear a mask. There is no debate among public health experts about the effectiveness of masks. In fact, earlier this month it was revealed that an internal state analysis concluded that jurisdictions with a masking requirement fared better than those that did not. In correspondence regarding those study results, the DHSS director stated: "I think we can say with great confidence reviewing the public health literature and then looking at the results in your study that communities where masks were required had a lower positivity rate per 100,000 and experienced lower death rates.” (See

Notably, that internal state analysis was never shared with St. Louis County, the public, or the courts involved in the current mask order litigation, and instead was revealed to reporters in response to a Sunshine records request.

Again, the data is completely overwhelming: masks work.

Based on that overwhelming data, the advice given by worldwide, national, state, regional and local health experts is the same: wear a mask when you're in indoor, crowded places to reduce your risk of getting COVID, and to keep from spreading it to people in case you have it yourself.

It's simple, and common-sense advice, really.

Some people in positions of political power have decided to make choices for our community that don't reflect the advice from the CDC, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, Missouri's Department of Health and Human Services, the St. Louis Regional Pandemic Task Force, the American Hospital Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Missouri State Medical Association, the Missouri Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association, and the Missouri Nurses Association (to name just a few).

That's not only a shame – it's dangerous. Right now, our case counts are high, and are on the rise. This week the Regional Pandemic Task Force explained that they are concerned about hospitals' ability to manage a surge of cases.

And, of course, the new Omicron variant has been identified in St. Louis; we can reasonably presume that it's active in the region. While we don't yet have a full picture of its transmissibility, we do know that it has spread quickly in other parts of the world.

So, even if you're confused and disappointed by the behavior of some who claim to serve the public, please don't be distracted or misled by the legal wrangling.

Masks work. They protect you, your loved ones, and our community. While you enjoy the holiday season, please do so responsibly, and wear a mask when you're indoors with others who aren't in your household, especially in crowded places.

Dr. Page won't stop fighting for you, your family, and your health. Neither will we.

**Pet of the Week!:  We really love our Pet of the Week segment. This week we're highlighting McLovin!, a 3-year-old pup who has been at the shelter since July. We loved the adorable video that volunteers took of him – he even knows shake! Watch:

The shelter is open on the weekends from 12-3pm, and during the week by appointment. Any questions regarding the adoption process can be directed to the adoption desk at 314-615-0650 (opt. 3). Learn more about the adoption process and find the adoption application online here:

St. Louis County Library News:

St. Louis County Libraries are open for browsing without an appointment. Learn more at The Library has many events, classes and workshops each week. Check out the online calendar to see what’s happening this week.

Grab-and-Go Meals: Operation Food Search provides free grab and go meals for kids, Monday-Friday at select SLCL locations. Learn more:

**Join the Winter Reading Challenge! All ages can participate. Register online at Print one of the log sheets (there's one for each age category) to help track. Complete at least 5 activities to be entered in an electronic prize raffle. Mark activities complete by January 31.

St. Louis County Parks news: 

Bows for Birds Begins! The Audubon Center at Riverlands has begun its second annual Bows for Birds challenge – a scavenger hunt that takes you to 12 different area parks in search of wooden cutouts of native birds. And yes! There are prizes! It's a great family-friendly event. Learn more here:

The Fall/Winter Activity Guide is available! Learn more about special events, day camps, swimming lessons, outdoor programs and more:

Come celebrate the season by seeing Thornhill, the family home of Missouri Governor Frederick Bates, in all its Christmas splendor the weekend of Dec. 3 and 4. This self-guided stroll through the Victorian-adorned home is a wonderful opportunity to spend the holiday in the mid-1800s. Light refreshments will be served. Advance tickets are available by calling (314) 615-8328 or visiting, but they are not required.


To say this is a challenging, fast-paced time is an understatement, but we hope updates like this will help you keep track of what's going on week-to-week.

Please forward this email to a family member, friend, or co-worker you think might be interested. Or encourage them to subscribe for themselves at this link

Let us know if you have questions, concerns, or something you'd like us to focus on!


Dr. Sam's Team

P.O. Box 410091
Saint Louis, MO 63141
Paid for by Page for Missouri, Sue Felling, Treasurer

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