Yes, you're reading this correctly, and no, you didn't fall asleep and are having a nightmare about those pain-in-the-butt COVID-19 pandemic days. A Missouri health department tried to bring back a mask mandate and had it reversed before you can say "Here comes Christmas."

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Dateline St. Louis. Where according to a Newsweek article citing the Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis Department of Health told city employees last Thursday, that starting Friday they'd need to wear masks indoors citing a spike in respiratory illnesses.

That mandate didn't last long. By last Friday afternoon, a city spokesperson told Newsweek that the city "strongly recommends" that employees wear a mask indoors.

So, what changed? Newsweek reports that a spokesperson for Governor Mike Parson told the magazine that Parson had recently said on the radio he'd continue to oppose new mask mandates, and that he had a conversation with the mayor's office which changed the city's stance and reversed the mask mandate.

The St. Louis Health Department probably was trying to do a good thing. Between COVID-19, RSV, and whatever nasty cold and flu thing is floating around out there this fall and winter, many health departments are worried that a spike in these illnesses could stretch healthcare workers and hospitals to the brink.

Yet, here's the thing. There are COVID-19 vaccines and booster vaccines available. There is a vaccine to protect older folks from getting RSV. Heck, there's a whole slate of vaccines to protect most of us from almost everything out there. Or at least keep it to where you're not looking at a hospital admission when you get it.

Additionally, no one's stopping anyone from wearing a mask or doing anything that they think will protect them from being ill.

My late wife was very sick until she passed, and at several of the care facilities she was in, they had mask policies in place and were very open that they had active cases of COVID-19 in these facilities. So yeah, in those cases, masking up while walking the halls or being in public spaces where I might run into other patients and staff, things like a mask policy sense.

Yet generally, as we go about our daily lives? In most circumstances, mask mandates, or showing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test just seems like overkill, especially at this point.

Additionally, with all the information available to us about diseases like COVID-19, RSV, colds, and flu, I think most people can take the steps they're comfortable with to keep themselves healthy.

I would say exercise common sense when you do get sick. If you're all congested and coughing and sick, stay home if you can. If you test positive for COVID-19, then follow the quarantine guidance. By all means, see the doctor, and get well.

If wearing a mask is part of what you think is going to keep you healthy, by all means, wear one. If staying away from crowds, or crowds in enclosed spaces, is something you think will keep you healthy or lessen your chance of picking up a bug, do it. Make the choices that work for you.

That about sums up my philosophy on the whole thing. Make the choices you're comfortable with, and if you find yourself ill, then protect those friends, family members, and co-workers around you.

Be safe, be well, and stay healthy this winter.

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Gallery Credit: Stephanie Parker

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