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COVID exposure from St. Louis County Council meeting unclear

CLAYTON (AP) — Health officials say they are struggling to track down a crowd of anti-mask protesters who attended a St. Louis County Commission after one of the meeting participants tested positive for COVID-19.

Hundreds showed up at the July 27 meeting to oppose a public health order requiring people to wear masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Some attendees also declared their opposition to getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Spring Schmidt, deputy director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, said in a statement Friday that county investigators first encountered difficulty identifying people from the large crowd, then got resistance or outright silence from attendees they were able to locate.

“Ultimately, given the low participation in both the recommendation for testing and the cooperation with investigators, we cannot accurately provide a picture of any spread from the meeting,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said that “only a couple of people” at the meeting had sought COVID-19 testing afterward, and they were all county employees. Each tested negative, she said.

After the potential COVID-19 exposure, both the county and city health departments recommended all attendees quarantine. But the majority of the council has continued to meet in person, without requiring masks for attendees.

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