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St. Louis requires masks for everyone amid rising Covid-19 cases

The rule's return in the city and county of St. Louis comes as cases are rising all over the country, driven by the delta variant.

The St. Louis area is bringing back a mask mandate for all as the number of Covid-19 cases in Missouri continue to rise amid a more-transmissible variant, officials said.

Both the city and county of St. Louis will require masks to be worn by the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike in indoor public places starting Monday, the mayor's office said.

It is at least the second large county in the U.S. to return to a blanket mask requirement as the delta variant drives increased cases all over the country.

Los Angeles County, the most populous in the U.S., last week reinstated an indoor mask requirement.

"We’ve lost more than 500 St. Louisans to COVID-19, and if our region doesn’t work together to protect one another, we could see spikes that overwhelm our hospital and public health systems," city health department acting director Dr. Fredrick Echols said in a statement.

St. Louis County is the most populous county in Missouri. The city and county enacted a mask mandate in July 2020 that was lifted in May after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated people could stop wearing masks in many settings.

Days ago, the city and county sounded the alarm on what officials called a sharp increase in cases, saying new daily cases were up by more than 30 percent from the week before.

Greene County has also seen a rise in cases, and Gov. Mike Parson this week directed "ambulance strike teams" to Springfield to support the health care system.

The more transmissible delta variant is now the dominant form in the United States and accounts for 83 percent of new Covid-19 cases in the country, the CDC director said Tuesday.